Darren Read has enjoyed a welcome return to motorsport after claiming an emphatic victory in the Kempsey Sporting Car Club’s Tri Series Challenge at Mount Cooperabung Hill Climb course.
After an eight month absence due to injury, the reigning champion showed no signs of losing his touch during the seven-run event.
With 27 competitors tackling the popular hill climb track, Read only needed just one run to produce an event-winning time, with the next fastest driver being Dave Morrow, who finished four seconds slower than Read’s eventual fastest run of 22.687 seconds.
Despite Read falling just short of the hill climb’s outright record set by Doug Barry, the Hayward 09 pilot was thrilled to come away with the victory and a personal best time.
“It was a great day. I was hoping to get under the 23 second mark so I was very happy to get 22.6 seconds,” Read said.
“Doug’s original record stood for seven years but he broke it again last year and I fell just short of his new one, which was disappointing, although for a club level driver in a fast car, I was pretty happy with the time I posted.
“My first run nearly beat my personal best time and I just chiselled away at it on every run after. The fact that I was pretty consistent throughout gave me hope that I could be pretty competitive against the state guys when the time comes.
“I am not sure when I will get the chance to have another crack but I know the car is capable and I just need to be on my game in the future because that Kempsey record is definitely doable.”
While Read was four seconds faster than Morrow, the next fastest drivers were a further two and half seconds slower as Glenn Oram and Allan Hunt were locked in an epic battle for third place all day.
As both drivers had faster times on different occasions, it was Hunt who looked to have sealed the position with a time of 29.267 seconds on his fourth run, only for Oram to pinch it from him two runs later by the smallest of margins – two hundredths of a second being the final gap between the two.
Rounding out the top five was Les Maloney, who’s fourth run saw him post a time of 29.422 seconds, highlighting how close the battle for the third was.
Other notable results saw the 10th placed Natalie Gardiner come away with the best time out of the women competitors while two places below was the fastest junior of the day in Angus Patterson.
Following on from the hill climb, event organiser Chris Seam was happy the club was able to run the event in the current circumstances.
“We had great weather and a great showing from all of the competitors. It was just a really good day that took our minds off the current situation, which was quite nice,” Seam said.
“Everyone involved was really compliant and helpful in maintaining the practices we had put in place to make sure we adhered to the regulations, allowing us to go ahead with the event.
“We may not know when can continue again, but it was definitely a special day and I would like to thank all the competitors and officials who showed up and helped make it happen.”