Sunday, Sep 22 07:21pm
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

Hayden Paddon smashes Ashley Forest Rallysprint record

A new chapter has been written in the history of the Ashley Forest Rallysprint after Hayden Paddon clocked a 52.77s on the hill climb.


Driving his modified Hyundai i20 AP4++ at the annual event, Paddon broke the previous record of 54.96 held by Sloan Cox in his Mitsubishi Evolution.


Now 32-years-old, Paddon first contested the hill climb event at the age of 14. It was a long time between drinks before he returned to North Canterbury where in 2011 he won it in his second attempt with a V8-powered all-wheel-drive Mitsubishi Cordia.


The wins come after a failed attempt in 2018, which saw his Hyundai stifled by mechanical trouble on the final day.


“It’s nice to get it over the line and it’s quite a relief in some ways,” Paddon said.


“With the amount of work and obstacles thrown at us during the week up to the event, it’s quite amazing it’s turned out like this.


“It’s been a huge commitment from the team with the amount of work that’s gone in this week, so it’s very cool to break the record – that was our main goal.”


Paddon had hoped to run the car at 800 bhp, but an important mechanical part didn’t arrive in time for the event. That meant they could only utilize 500 bhp.


“We weren’t able to use the 800hp engine we were planning to use for this event, and in the end had to run a 500hp option so we were a bit up against it,” he said.


“But in some ways, it was really nice because we had to try and find other ways to gain time. The whole team absolutely pulled together and never gave up, and we got the desired outcome in the end.”


Paddon came into the third and final day of the event on Sunday apprehensive about his chances, but was glad to come away with the win.


“To be honest, I didn’t think it was going to be possible after yesterday. But everything worked out really well today.


“We extracted almost as much as we could from the car, so it’s good to know there’s more to come. If we can get the engine package right for the future, there’s still unfinished business to come back and lower that time even further.


“Could we break 50 seconds? It’s a massive challenge and probably some kind of an engineering phenomenon as the margins get smaller and smaller, the faster you go.


“I know there’s a little more time in our last run today so you take that into the equation and a few other things, it could be possible, but obviously not easy.


“You really can’t make any mistakes during the elimination runs on this 1.7-km stretch of hill. It was a real shame that Sloan went out a couple of runs from the end with his problems.


“It took some pressure off us which meant we could get through the elimination shootouts and put it all on the line for the last one, but it would have been great to have had that all-out battle with Sloan right down to the wire.”