This weekend’s battle to be the first competitor to win the Ben Nevis Station Golden 1200 Hillclimb is shaping up to be intense. Event founder Hayden Paddon is expecting a close fight for the title with several well-known names in hillclimb circles like Ian Ffitch, Sloan Cox and Tony Quinn in their purpose-built hillclimb vehicles all in with the chance for victory.
Christchurch’s Mike Tall is also well-known for his exploits in his Mitsubishi Mirage in the demanding Ashley Forest Rallysprint and Waimate’s Ben Terry in his very fast Mitsubishi Evo 3 can’t be discounted. Coromandel’s Alex Kesley has to withdraw before the event, unable to source gearbox parts in time for his unique Peugeot MC2.
In total, 89 competitors from across the South Island and as far afield as Australia, Auckland and Bay of Plenty are lining up to test themselves and their machines on the 6km hillclimb on the Nevis Road, the highest public road in New Zealand and a remote high-country route between Bannockburn and Kingston. The route starts on Ben Nevis Station, crosses the Nevis River, then climbs to an elevation of 1200 metres at the finish line.
The 89 competitors cover 12 categories across several 4WD and 2WD classes, open wheel specials like X-carts being driven by rally specialists Mark Tapper, Jeff Judd and Wayne Pittams, two off-road racing classes run under ORANZ rules and three classes of motorcycle and quads running under Motorcycling NZ regulations.
The event gets underway at 9am Saturday 7 March with the first of six runs for each competitor over the two days. The fastest time from each day will count towards the competitor’s final results.
Paddon lines up as the number one seed, meaning he’ll run last in the reverse seeded running order.
“Our Hyundai i20 AP4 has a new spec engine which we tested successfully recently,” says Paddon. “I’m really looking forward to the event and with six specialist hillclimb cars at the front of the field, am expecting some close competition.”
Rotorua’s Sloan Cox has been flat out getting to the Nevis event, having had to repair his Mitsubishi hillclimb special after its last outing at Leadfoot Festival in February.
“We were excited to hear about Hayden’s plans for the new event that suits our car with top competition,” says Cox. “Hayden may know the road and know it’s going to be tough to win it the first year, but without doubt, I want to be on the podium and will be pushing to win. It’s an awesome bit of road, but could be tricky to read.”
Amberley’s Ian Ffitch is looking forward to challenging himself on the new stretch of road. “It’s a great chance to challenge myself against all forms of vehicles and see how far up the standings I can get.”
Timing and results will be 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.