Hayden Paddon, Job Quantock and Sloan Cox set the three fastest times on the opening day of the inaugural Ben Nevis Station Golden 1200 Hillclimb.
All three set their quickest time of the day on the third of three runs with Paddon fastest overall in his Hyundai i20 AP4 with a time of 2m 52.8s. Quantock was second quickest with 3m 8s and Cox was third fastest with 3m 11.2s.
The hillclimb is taking place over the weekend of 7 and 8 March on 6km of winding hillside on the Nevis Road in Central Otago.
The event is Paddon’s brainchild and attracted a 90-strong, full capacity starting list across 12 categories of cars, quads, motorbikes and offroaders within a few days of entries opening late last year.
The hillclimb sees each competitor complete six runs of the course over the two days. The fastest time from each day counts towards the competitor’s final results.
Saturday’s first run of the original 89 entrants got underway around 9.30am in cool, overcast conditions. As expected, Ashburton’s Ian Ffitch was by far the fastest of the quad and motorcycle classes with a time of 3m 34.2s and Dunedin’s Chris Hey dominated the timesheets for the open 2WD class in his potent Toyota MR2 with a 3m 46.1s. Gore’s Andrew Graves topped the rally 4WD class with a time of 3m 32s while Kaiapoi’s Job Quantock topped the overall standings with a time of 3m 20.8s in his Skoda AP4. Regrettably issues with the timing system meant some class one competitors, including top seed Hayden Paddon, didn’t have a time recorded for the first run.
A few delays hampered the second run which saw 77 competitors complete the 6km hillclimb course. Spectators were pleased to see Paddon set the fastest time so far of 2m 55.6s in his Hyundai i20 AP4 in full hillclimb spec averaging 125km/h on the gravel road which climbs 540m from the Nevis River to the finish at an elevation of 1200m. Rotorua’s Sloan Cox setting his first time today of 3m 11.30s. Third overall in that run and third in the open 4WD class was Waimate’s Ben Terry 3m 13.9s. Rangiora’s Robbie Stokes was the fastest of the rally 4WD competitors with a time of 3m 16.7s in his Fiesta AP4. Ffitch continued to lead the motorcycle/quad field with an eighth fastest overall time of 3m 22.2s.
The third run got away late afternoon in increasingly cloudy and cool conditions. Paddon went slightly faster to top the day’s timesheets with 2m 52.8s. Quantock put in a sterling run in his Skoda – also in full hillclimb spec like Paddon’s – to be second overall with 3m 8s and Cox was third fastest with 3m 11.2s. The open 2WD class includes the X-karts with Waikanae’s Jeff Ward powering a Semog X-kart up the hill quickest with his best time of 3m 24.7s. Te Anau’s Paul Preston topped the day’s standings for the club 4WD class with a time of 3m 31.9s. Stewart Reid from Brisbane was fastest among the 1.6 to 2 litre 2WD competitors with his best time of 3m 40.4s while Christchurch’s Taylor Judd led the 1.3-1.6 litre 2WD class with a 3m 34.6s. Steve Gray from Timaru headed the 1.3-1.6 litre 2WD class with 4m 5.6s.
Southland’s Jared Racz was quickest for the day in the lower cc rating motorcycle class with a best time of 3m 25.5s and Timaru’s Andrew Wright was fastest in the larger motorcycle category with 3m 47.9s. Ffitch dominated the quad bike class with his day’s best time of 3m 13s. Among the offroaders, Kingston’s Don Preston set a 3m 39s in the open ORANZ class and Dyson Delahunty, from Tauranga, was fastest in the UTV with a 3m 26.9s.
The Ben Nevis Station Golden 1200 Hillclimb continues on Sunday with three more runs on the 6km course for all competitors across the 12 categories. The inaugural winner of the Golden 1200 trophy will be identified once the best times from all six runs are completed.
The Golden 1200 Hillclimb takes place on the highest public road in New Zealand in the Nevis Valley and was made possible with the support of Hyundai New Zealand, GoPro, Repco, Gravity, WinmaX Brake Pads, Ben Nevis Station, Central Apartments, Civil Construction, Design Windows and Highlands.
Timing and results are being livestreamed from the event on www.chrissport.co.nz and with regular video and news updates will be published on the Paddon Rallysport Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/paddonrallysport/ from the dedicated media team. The event will also feature a 30min highlights package screened on TV3 CRC Motorsport show in the weeks following the event.
Spectator access to the designated viewing zones is free and offer spectators high octane motorsport among Central Otago’s breath-taking scenery. Access and parking is via the Nevis Road from Bannockburn. Please follow the directions of the marshals.
More information and the spectator maps is available by clicking the Golden 1200 button on the Paddon Rallysport website www.paddonrallysport.co.nz.
About the Golden 1200
The Golden 1200 Hillclimb – so named for the golden tussock-covered Central Otago landscape and as a reference to the Nevis Valley’s goldmining history, and the 1200 metre elevation at the hillclimb’s finish line – is a two-day event with three runs for all competitors both days. The fastest time from each day will count towards the competitor’s final results, the intention being to put greater emphasis on each run but also allow for any issues or car malfunctions that may hamper a competitor’s attempt at the 6km hillclimb.