Hayden Paddon's new Hyundai looks insane, packs over 500kW
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Even without a slot on the World Rally Championship calendar, New Zealand's rallying scene continues to flourish. Growing numbers and more high-quality entrants continue to set the tone in the New Zealand Rally Championship, we have a Kiwi in the WRC, and Rangiora's WinmaX Brakes Ashley Forest RallySprint is still humming along.
All things considered, Ashley Forest is probably the biggest rally event in the country. Not part of any one championship, it sees some of the best drivers and teams in the country let their hair down in machinery that generally comes with more muscle and aero than the average thanks to a 'more liberal' rule book.
Hayden Paddon's wild new-look Hyundai i20 AP4++ is a strong case in point.
Revealed yesterday, the newly crowned NZRC champ's i20 is now far beyond its AP4 roots. This is most obvious through its new, Kiwi-designed and built carbon fibre spoilers and canard aero package — turning an already visually arresting rally car into something that looks like it belongs on the set of Death Race.
Under the bonnet it sports a new 2.1-litre turbocharged engine, which combined with its other changes like a MoTeC M1 engine management system and respective tuning, means that the humble i20 now produces 680bhp (or 507kW).
Paddon will be hoping that the changes prove effective, given his unfortunate loss last year.
Having entered the event as the hot favourite, the Hyundai ace was a front-runner all weekend until engine problems cut him out of the picture in the dying stages. Sloan Cox instead took the win, in his equally nutty Mitsubishi Evo 8 Hill-climb Special.
Cox returns again this weekend, and lines up as Paddon's loftiest challenger. Also worth watching will be former WRC pilot Alister McRae, who will be behind the wheel of Possum Bourne Motorsport's Subaru Impreza.
“My goals are simple – to win,” Cox said recently in the event's build up.
“Hayden and Alistair are two big competitors who are coming to try and take the trophy, but we know we can bet them – it’s our hill. We’ve got the car pretty sorted and will be well placed to win.
“I can’t wait for the battle. I want one of them to beat the record and then I’m going to beat it again. They’re both big international stars — they’ve come to knock me off the top spot and it will be a great battle. But I’m going there to win.”
Cox is the current Ashley Forest Rally Sprint record holder. He was the first to beat the late Kim Austin's long-time record in 2016 (a record Austin claimed with the iconic V8-powered Mitsubishi Starion), and then he lowered the record last year to a rapid 54.96-second run along the challenging 1.7km course.
Those who can't get themselves trackside for this year's event will be able to follow it online via live streaming courtesy of MoMac. The multi-camera stream will be beamed from location via the media group's Facebook page.