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Paddon fastest to Golden 1200 Hillclimb title for second time

In the spectacular Central Otago high country above Bannockburn this weekend, Kiwi rally star Hayden Paddon raced to his second Ben Nevis Station Golden 1200 Hillclimb title.

Driving the Paddon Rallysport-run Hyundai i20 AP4 car, Paddon delivered a superb final run of 2m 6.1s, taking four seconds off his best time over the same stretch of road at the inaugural Golden 1200 in 2020. When added yesterday’s final run time, Paddon’s combined time of 4m 14.3s earned him the hillclimb victory.

Taking the other two top podium positions for the weekend were two competitors driving nimble, high-powered Semog Crosscars – Christchurch’s Matt Penrose and Cromwell’s Ari Pettigrew.

Paddon said: “I had six clean runs across the two days and was able to take quite a bit of time off our best time from two years ago. I was pleased to put together a nice, clean run on the last one. I’m really happy for the team and big thanks to them for a car that ran faultlessly all weekend.”

Paddon and his Paddon Rallysport staff play a big role in running and promoting the event which was able to run in MotorSport New Zealand’s back in motion guidelines during these covid-impacted times with competitors required to stay in groups of limited numbers and no spectators. Paddon paid credit to Roger Laird and other members of the Eastern Southland Car Club for the on-the-ground event organisation which attracted more than 70 competitors to line up for the unique hillclimb.

“The event went well,” he added, “and I think everyone enjoyed the weekend. Conditions got a little bit rough as the gravel got swept off the road, exposing some bedrock in the latter runs. It was both trickier and interesting to get a clean run as the car was reacting differently each run, so I had to adapt.

“Many people helped put the event together and it’s been cool to see everyone work together to make a motorsport event happen when it is easy to cancel or postpone events in this climate. Everyone was motivated to see the event happen and competitors got behind us too. This year’s event certainly gives us a good platform to make the Golden 1200 a much bigger spectator event in 2024. The livestream was great and gives us more to build on for the next event in 2024.”

Second placed Penrose was happy to get a combined time to finish ahead of Pettigrew and win the Crosscar class. “I just wanted to get a good solid run in for the last one. Ari’s been very fast all weekend. Overall it’s been an awesome weekend and it’s an awesome event.”

Third placed Pettigrew, who put in a blistering final run with a time of 2m 16s, says the road is fun and challenging in a Crosscar. “It was great to get a good run in the last one. Every time you run the road’s different and it’s been great to get in the Crosscar between rally seasons. I’m looking forward to Rally Otago now.”

The two days of great hillclimb action have been enjoyed by thousands of motorsport fans around New Zealand and the world thanks to livestreaming from the event.

This year, the hillclimb course has been shortened to 3.6km, rather than the original 6km course first run in 2020. The shortened course starts at the same place on Ben Nevis Station and includes 22 challenging corners as the road rises from the Nevis Valley towards Bannockburn. The decision to shorten the course this year means competitors have less time to wait between the six runs scheduled across two days.

The schedule for Sunday saw 68 competitors line up for the fourth run of six timed runs over the weekend. Sadly Superquad star Ian Ffitch wouldn’t return to the competition due to a blown engine.

Conditions were fine, but very windy in the Nevis valley. Not many competitors set faster times than their third run on Saturday, presumably saving their best efforts for the all-important sixth and final run later in the afternoon.

The top five timed runs came from Cromwell’s Hayden Paddon in the Hyundai i20 AP4 with a 2m 9.1s, Christchurch’s Matt Penrose in a Semog Crosscar with a 2m 19.9s, Cromwell’s Ari Pettigrew in another Semog Crosscar with 2m 22.8s, with Dunedin’s Mike Wellington in his Class 1 Mitsubishi Lancer and motorcycle class leader Andrew Rudd on a Gas Gas MC450 setting the same time of 2m 24.0s.

Run five took place late Sunday morning with Paddon and Penrose topping the charts with times of 2m 8.4s and 2m 17.19s respectively. One of yesterday’s frontrunners, Christchurch’s Michael Tall jumped back into contention for a podium placing with a time of 2m 20.5s in his Class 1 Mitsubishi Mirage. Ashburton’s David Quantock was fourth fastest on this run with a time of 2m 21.0s in his Class 1 Skoda AP4, ahead of Mike Wellington with a 2m 21.5s.

With Paddon and Pettigrew topping the timecharts for the sixth and final run, Penrose was third quickest that time with a 2m 17s, Quantock was again fourth with his best time of 2m 18.9s and Wellington took the fifth quickest time with 2m 19s.

The following competitors earned class-winner honours. Their final time combines their times from the third and sixth runs.
Class 1, Unlimited 4WD – Hayden Paddon, Cromwell, Hyundai i20 AP4 – 4m 14.3s, 1st overall
Class 2, Rally 4WD – John Spencer, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo7 – 4m 48.1s, 12th overall
Class 3, Club 4WD – Terrie Taylor, Subaru Impreza – 5m 25.8s, 45th overall
Class 4, Unlimited 2WD 2301cc and over – Chris Hey, Toyota MR2 – 5m 9.2s, 34th overall
Class 5, 2WD 1601-2300cc – no entries
Class 6, 2WD 0-1600cc – Ian Warren, Nissan Pulsar – 5m 13.9s, 37th overall
Class 7, Classic Rally 2WD pre-1986 – Jeff Judd, Christchurch, Ford Escort – 5m 12.5s, 36th overall
Class 8, Classic Rally 4WD pre-1996 – Stu Weeber, Subaru 555, Christchurch – 4m 58.2s, 27th overall
Class 9, Quads – Mark Willis, Honda TRX700 – 5m 20.0s
Class 10, Crosscars – Matt Penrose, Christchurch, Semog Crosscar – 4m 36.2s, 2nd overall
Note: this was potentially the largest field of Crosscars at a New Zealand to date with 16 entries.
Class 11, Motorcycles – Andrew Rudd, Gas Gas MC450 – 4m 53.9s, 18th overall

The final results are available on Chrissport – https://chrissport.nz/

Find more news and images from the event on the dedicated Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/Golden1200Hillclimb

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