The brand-new Ben Nevis Station Golden 1200 Hillclimb has attracted a full contingent of 90 competitors and several major stars keen to tackle the 6km course on 7 and 8 March this year.
Contenders for the outright win include Tony Quinn with his purpose-built Pikes Peak hillclimb car, Ashley Forest Rallysprint winner Sloan Cox, Waimate 50 competitor Ben Terry with a 700 bhp Mitsubishi, Race to the Sky star Ian Fitch on his SuperQuad and the event’s founder Kiwi rally star Hayden Paddon with his Hyundai AP4 rally car in full hillclimb mode. The event has even inspired Coromandel’s Alex Kelsey to get his incredible homebuilt Peugeot MC2 out of the shed.
There’s also a waiting list for the new event developed by Paddon with the support of his Paddon Rallysport Group, and three local motorsport clubs: Eastern Southland Car Club, Queenstown Car Club and Central Otago Motorsport Club.
Plenty of other entries are sure to attract spectator interest with an even mix of two- and four-wheel-drive rally cars and rally competitors from across the eras such as Ray Wilson (Pokeno) and Job Quantock (Kaiapoi). Prebbleton’s Stu Webber is bringing his ex-Prodrive/Possum Bourne 555 Subaru Impreza to line up against 16 motorbikes and quads, four ATVs, four offroader and four Crosskarts, with one being piloted by rally driver Mark Tapper.
Entries initially opened in December with 80 available spots. These filled within 48 hours which prompted organisers to extend the entry list to 90.
“It’s exciting to see so many people share our vision for the Ben Nevis Station Golden 1200 Hillclimb,” says Paddon.
The hillclimb uses 6km of the Nevis Road, a remote high-country route between Bannockburn and Kingston which is the highest public road in New Zealand. Event sponsors Ben Nevis Station host the service park and the hillclimb starts on the station before heading over the Nevis Road towards Bannockburn.
Paddon describes the designated section of the steep gravel road as “…magic. These six kilometres offer a mixture of fast and wide, and tight and narrow. The entry list is like a who’s who of the current New Zealand hillclimb scene and the battle across those two days in March this year to win the inaugural Golden 1200 trophy is going to be epic!
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.
Timing and results will be livestreamed from the event along with regular video and news updates from the dedicated media team.
Spectator access to the designated viewing zones is free this year and offer spectators high octane motorsport among Central Otago’s breath-taking scenery. Access and parking will be via the Nevis Road from Bannockburn.
Paddon says: “It’s one of the best spectating roads in the country so we hope spectators will make the most of this opportunity to come and experience some of New Zealand’s most amazing high-country scenery and some great motorsport action.
“If you’re thinking about coming to spectate, we urge you to organise accommodation before it’s all booked out locally.”
Camping for competitors and spectators will be available on Ben Nevis Station; more details will be shared soon.
Regular information about the Ben Nevis Station Golden 1200 Hillclimb is shared on the Paddon Rallysport Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/paddonrallysport/ or look for the Golden 1200 button on the Paddon Rallysport website www.paddonrallysport.co.nz.
by Kate Gordon-Smith/Relish Communications