Watch: Hayden Paddon claims victory during EV rally car debut
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Kiwi rally star Hayden Paddon piloted his Hyundai Kona EV rally car to victory on debut for the ground-breaking electric powered car.
Spectators and online followers of the Waimate 50 Motorsport Festival in the South Canterbury town of Waimate were able to see Paddon make history as he drove the Hyundai EV rally car in competition for the very first time.
Paddon and his five-strong team at Paddon Rallysport, based in Cromwell, New Zealand, have been working on the Hyundai EV rally car for the past two years. With MotorSport New Zealand recently releasing their electric vehicle guidelines, car clubs organising events now have safety guidelines to work with for this technology which is new for New Zealand motorsport.
Having done a number of demonstration runs in the Hyundai EV rally car at earlier events, the Waimate event was chosen as the EV car’s competition debut as it fitted the car’s development timeline to allow the team to gather more information for their continued development work.
In another first for the EV rally car project, Paddon Rallysport fitted the car with a prototype mechanical sound device, a project 18 months in the making, not long before the first timed run. Right from the outset of this project, Paddon said the car needed to produce sound for safety reasons when on a rally stage but also for the vibe and feeling that spectators enjoy when listening to rally cars contesting the stages.
Running in the unlimited 4WD class of the Horsepower Hillclimb which attracted 50 entrants from many regions where travel is possible under Alert Level 2, Paddon set the fastest time for the 4.0 km stretch of gravel road from the first run on Saturday with a time of two minutes, 8.41 seconds. The time for the second run was more than two seconds faster and the car continued to improve with the third timed run on Saturday.
Sunday morning started with an even faster time for the Paddon Rallysport EV rally car of two minutes, 0.77 seconds, and Paddon cracked the two-minute barrier on the sixth run with a time of one minute, 59.76 seconds to lead the field going into the top 15 shootout.
He won the event with his best time of one minute, 58.38 seconds ahead of former New Zealand Hillclimb Champion Matt Penrose, from North Canterbury, competing in a Semog Crosscar and the only other competitor to break two minutes.
Paddon was understandably pleased to have had such a successful debut for the Hyundai Kona EV rally car, which marks a major milestone in the car’s development.
Paddon said: “We’re really happy with the result. It’s pretty awesome to even get to the event itself and I’m proud for the team after two years of work, to win on debut.
“I think it’s a massive credit to the amount of work everyone has put in and we’ve certainly had to work for this.
“We are learning a lot about the car still. There’s a lot of potential to come from it which we’re still working out how to unlock. In saying that, we’ll just had to work with the tools and the knowledge that we had this weekend. We learnt a whole lot more and got a lot of data which is certainly going to help us a lot more in the future.
“To win on debut is perfect for the project and we’re pretty excited about what more this car can bring for us in the future.”