Hayden Paddon scored a debut win for his Hyundai Kona EV at the Waimate 50 Motorsport Festival at the weekend.
Running in the unlimited four-wheel drive class of Horsepower Hillclimb, Paddon led from the outset in South Canterbury.
He opened his account with a 2m08.41s run up the 2.5-mile gravel stage on Saturday, lowering that to an unbeatable 1m58.38s in Sunday’s top-15 shoot-out.
Paddon Rallysport’s Cromwell-based, five-strong team has spent two years developing the all-new, all-electric car, which has been demonstrated at various events in recent months.
But at the weekend, Paddon drove the car directly into the record books as he took victory under MotorSport New Zealand’s recently released electric vehicle guidelines.
“We’re really happy with the result,” Paddon said.
“It’s pretty awesome to even get to the event itself and I’m proud for the team after two years of work, to win on debut.
“It’s a massive credit to the amount of work everyone has put in and we’ve certainly had to work for this.”
The 2016 Rally Argentina winner added that the Canterbury result was just the start for the car and the team.
“We are learning a lot about the car still,” Paddon said.
“There’s a lot of potential which we’re still working out how to unlock.
“In saying that, we’ll just have to work with the tools and the knowledge that we had this weekend.
“We learned a whole lot more and got a lot of data which is certainly going to help us a lot more in the future.
“To win on debut is perfect for the project and we’re pretty excited about what more this car can bring for us in the future.”
Another reason to make some noise about the Hyundai New Zealand-backed Kona EV is the noise itself.
This was the first test of a prototype mechanical sound device, which was fitted shortly before the first timed run.
From the outset of this project, Paddon said the car needed to produce sound for safety reasons when on a rally stage but also to add to the atmosphere on the event.