Paddon to give electric Hyundai competitive bow in hillclimb

After a demo run on Auckland's Battle of Jacks Ridge last year, the Kona EV gets its proper timed début this weekend


Hayden Paddon will give his Hyundai Kona EV its competition debut at this weekend’s Horsepower Hillclimb in New Zealand.

The one-time World Rally Championship event winner will run the Hyundai New Zealand-backed car in the South Canterbury event’s open class, having previously conducted a demonstration run

Just over two years after unveiling his plans to develop and build the car in association with Austrian firm STARD and the University of Canterbury, Paddon is looking forward to competing up the 2.5-mile gravel hill.

Talking about the competition element of the Waimate 50 Motorsport Festival, Paddon told DirtFish: “It’s a big milestone for us to be competing in the first place and, as a team, we can take pride in that.”

The car will run under MotorSport New Zealand’s recently revealed electric vehicle guidelines, which are helping car clubs organize events to work with EV technology.

Paddon said the emphasis was on taking competitive experience rather than the result this weekend.

“We’ll see how competitive we can be,” he added. “To begin with, it’s making sure the car runs successfully and sets times for each run on the hillclimb course, so people can see it in action.

“Obviously, we’ll do the best job we can competition-wise but not putting any pressure on ourselves as the pressure to get to this point has been so long.

“It’s about enjoying the moment, enjoying the milestone as a team and whatever result comes will be a bonus.

Hyundai EV rally car _action3 by Graeme Murray Photography

“The road is quite fast and steep. It probably doesn’t play to the strengths of the EV car which are its low center of gravity and handling, probably not enough corners but it will be a really good test to see what the car can do.”

The course rises 250 meters and includes both tight, twisty and faster more flat-out sections on the run up to the White Horse Monument.

The Kona EV’s competitive debut is eagerly awaited, with huge expectancy over the noise the car will make.

“It’ll be different,” Paddon told DirtFish when the car was under development.

Photos:Graeme Murray Photography

Words:David Evans