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New Zealand Hillclimb Championship adds new Cross Car Championship

Cross Cars will be an exciting addition to the MotorSport New Zealand Hillclimb Championship when it gets underway in September this year. Cross Car competitors will have the chance to vie for the New Zealand Cross Car Championship in the introduction year and the overall New Zealand Hillclimb Championship in subsequent years.

Kiwi rally star Hayden Paddon is behind the initiative to introduce Cross Cars into mainstream motorsport competition with their own regulations under MotorSport New Zealand’s technical structure. 

Donna Elder, Chair of MotorSport New Zealand’s ClubSport Commission which manages the Hillclimb Championship, and the technical team at MotorSport New Zealand have developed the regulations and championship articles required to add a whole new category of vehicle to one of New Zealand’s longest-standing championships.

“The New Zealand Cross Car Championship is designed for close and exciting competition with the driver being the main performance factor,” says Paddon. “Cross Cars have already featured on the podium of several hillclimb events run under MotorSport New Zealand ClubSport regulations, including outright victory in the Alexander Road hillclimb on Mount Victoria run by the Wellington Car Club.”

Elton Goonan, MotorSport New Zealand’s Acting CEO, is just as enthusiastic as Paddon about the new Cross Car championship.

“The New Zealand Hillclimb Championship has a valued and prestigious place among MotorSport New Zealand’s activities, and it’s always great for our sport as a whole to see new developments and initiatives to bring a fresh aspect to any competition,” says Goonan.

“I’ve seen the Cross Cars in action at the Ben Nevis Golden 1200 Hillclimb and they are awesome machines,” Goonan adds. “The technical department has been working hard to ensure the Cross Cars comply with Schedule A I think we’ll see quite a few competitors take the opportunity to run a Cross Car in more club events as a result. I’m looking forward to seeing them also get stuck into the fantastic array of qualifying events we’ll see as part of this year’s New Zealand Hillclimb Championship and fight for the chance to become our inaugural New Zealand Cross Car Champion.”

The New Zealand Hillclimb Championship, which includes the new Cross Car championship, comprises four club-run qualifying rounds, two in the North Island and two in the South Island, followed by a final round, which alternates between the islands. Each round includes a gravel hillclimb and a sealed road/tarmac hillclimb with the two events generally occurring on the same weekend. 

Paddon adds: “It’s great to see that Cross Cars now have a place and title to compete towards in New Zealand. We have been working on this concept for more than three years and it’s great to see people getting behind it. 

“My personal motivation is to see the development and growth of motorsport in New Zealand and these Cross Cars offer an option which can substantially reduce running costs for competitors and provide an exciting spectacle for all those enjoying the action. ClubSport is the heart of our sport and provides many opportunities for new people to join and learn about motorsport in New Zealand. The inclusion of Cross Cars in a range of entry-level ClubSport events offers another entry point for the sport and encourage greater involvement.

“I won’t be contesting the championship myself, taking more of an organising and promoting role. Our team at Paddon Rallysport is looking forward to being more involved with the New Zealand Hillclimb Championship and working with MotorSport New Zealand to grow the championship’s profile.”

As part of the new Schedule XC, six brands of Cross Cars made by FIA-recognised manufacturers will be eligible for the New Zealand Cross Car Championship, with Semog already available in New Zealand. Homebuilt karts built to Schedule A regulations can compete in MotorSport New Zealand ClubSport events such as motorkhanas and autocrosses but are not eligible for the championship. Schedule XC will only be applicable to the New Zealand Hillclimb Championships or events where full eligibility is required, with Cross Cars running under Schedule A at all other events.

A Cross Car is a one-seater, rear-wheel drive, space-frame buggy powered by a motorcycle engine. A Semog kart, for example, weighs just 300kg and puts out 160bhp at 14,000rpm from the GSX-R 750 motorbike engine. It’s fitted with a 6-speed sequential gearbox, hydraulic brakes, a handbrake, adjustable suspension, and competition components.

Also known as Crosskarts or XC internationally, Cross Cars are already popular in New Zealand as a relatively affordable off-road competition vehicle. Cross Cars often feature in the development pathway for young drivers heading for rally or rallycross, such as Petter Solberg’s son Oliver who started in Cross Cars and made his World Rally Championship debut this year at the age of 18. These ‘pocket rockets’ are widely used in a range of motorsport disciplines across Europe.

A new Facebook page “NZ ClubSport Championship” dedicated to MotorSport New Zealand’s ClubSport and Hillclimb disciplines will share regular updates on championships. More information about the New Zealand Hillclimb Championship is available from the MotorSport New Zealand website www.motorsport.org.nz, phone (04) 815 8015 or email the ClubSport Commission chair Donna Elder elderclubsport15@gmail.com.

2020-21 New Zealand Hillclimb Championship Calendar:

  • September 26th 2020 SI Qualifying Round 1 (Gravel) Marlborough Car Club
  • September 27th 2020 SI Qualifying Round 2 (Gravel) Marlborough Car Club
  • October 3rd 2020 NI Qualifying Round 1 (Seal) Hawkes Bay Car Club
  • October 4th 2020 NI Qualifying Round 1 (Gravel) Hawkes Bay Car Club
  • October 17th 2020 SI Qualifying Round 1 (Seal) RATEC
  • October 18th 2020 SI Qualifying Round 2 (Seal) RATEC
  • November 28th 2020 NI Qualifying Round 2 (Seal) Pukekohe Car Club
  • November 29th 2020 NI Qualifying Round 2 (Gravel) Pukekohe Car Club
  • February 13th 2021 Championship Final (Seal) South Otago Car Club
  • February 14th 2021 Championship Final (Gravel) South Otago Car Club
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