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The electric Kiwi Kona has won its debut hillclimb event

The 1,000bhp Hyundai rally car - with its own unique sound - won in Waimate

Published: 25 Oct 2021

We’ve seen the Kiwi Kona – an electric rally car based on a humble Hyundai crossover – go from a sketch on a drawing board to its completed, 1,000bhp form. So it’s with warmed cockles we learn that it’s just won its debut event.

It was driven by Hayden Paddon – the former WRC star whose brainchild the Kona EV rally car is – at the Waimate 50 Motorsport Festival in the South Canterbury region of his homeland.

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MotorSport New Zealand has worked on its guidelines to allow events to accommodate electric competitors, and the Kona won on its very first outing. It nipped under the two-minute mark in the ‘unlimited 4WD’ class of the Horsepower Hillclimb, which attracted 50 entrants from the regions of NZ where travel was possible.

A final time of 1:58.38 over the 4km course was just ahead of former New Zealand Hillclimb Champion Matt Penrose in second place.

“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,” says Paddon. “I think it’s a massive credit to the amount of work everyone has put in and we’ve certainly had to work for this.

“We are learning a lot about the car still. There’s a lot of potential to come from it which we’re still working out how to unlock. In saying that, we just had to work with the tools and the knowledge that we had this weekend. We learnt a whole lot more and got a lot of data which is certainly going to help us a lot more in the future. 

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“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.”

That includes aurally, this being the public debut of a ‘prototype mechanical sound device’ designed to give the Kona EV a noise all of its own, something that was on Paddon’s to-do list right from day one of the project.

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