Darren Warwick made a spectacular return to action at Le Val des Terres on Saturday, low on expectation but intent to put on a show after sponsorship struggles left him 10 months without racing. This reached a gripping culmination in the second and final run-off.
At the end of a day in which five Sarnians had made the British Championship Top 12s at one point or another, Warwick blasted to a 27.70sec. clocking to assume a late lead and spark hopes of claiming his fourth national-level ‘Valdees’ triumph of a glittering career.
The flying Alex Summers had failed to match this and now only championship leader Wallace Menzies could pass him.
After revving a three-litre engine as loud as the vivid lettering on Warwick’s Dallara reading ‘Sponsors needed for the 2020 FIA European Hill-Climb Championship’, Menzies burst through at the last possible moment.
His 27.48 ‘FTD’ relegated Warwick to second, but even this was no mean feat for the Guernseyman given the circumstances.
‘It’s almost like a golfer not swinging a golf club for 10 months and then he’s in a championship with no practice – it’s very difficult at these sorts of speeds,’ said Warwick.
‘I said if I can get within a second [of 27.2] I’d be happy, and if I can sneak a 27 at the end of the day, I’d be chuffed – and we have. I couldn’t have asked for more.
‘[Winning] would have been a fairy tale. At the end of the day, there’s no getting away.
‘The machinery the guys are in now, it’s very difficult for the guys like us in the basic two-litres to keep hold of them.’
In that same run-off, Nick Saunders produced a fast 27.96 for fourth but no-one lived up to the occasion more than fellow Sarnian Tim Tulie.
Having been pushed hard simply to qualify in his 998cc Empire, he attracted huge applause from the commentators after powering to seventh in a superb PB of 28.54.
‘I can’t believe it – speechless, really,’ said Tulie, who had earlier produced a 28.61 in qualifying after entering the day with a best just marginally below 29sec.
More in Monday's Guernsey Press.