Today (Sunday) Hayden Paddon will attempt to win the iconic Ashley Forest Rallysprint for the second time. Not only will he seek to win the honour of being the fastest car over the course in 2019, he will look to break the record set in 2017 by Sloan Cox, of 54.96 seconds.
Back in 2011 Paddon turned up to the Ashley Forest in North Canterbury having just won the FIA Production World Rally Championship title.
He was to drive the Steve Murphy Hybrid Codia V8, the car that Murphy won the event in 2004, 2008 and 2009. Murphy’s fastest time was 59.18 seconds (2009).
In 2011 it was to be a show down between Paddon, Glenn Inkster (Mitsubishi Evo), Richard Mason (Subaru WRX), Steve Murphy (sharing the Hybrid Cordia with Paddon), Neil Webb (Mitsubishi Mirage) and John Silcock (Mitsubishi Evo).
Over rain night left the 1.7 km gravel course greasy and rutted with times expected to be slower.
It turned out to be the opposite and drivers’ soon realised they would have to post a sub-minute time to be in contention.
Qualifying runs on Saturday and Sunday morning sorted out the fastest 32 cars. These competed in elimination rounds where half the field would drop out until the quickest two would then have one run each to determine the overall winner (32-16-8-4-2).
Silocock was first to falter in-spite of posting one of his quickest times ever of 61.58 sec. Webb’s time was 60.23, but this wasn’t enough.
Next to go were Murphy and Mason leaving the final between Paddon and Inkster.
Paddon laid down the gauntlet with a time of 57.16. Inkster went straight after Paddon and crossed the line 0.41 second slower.
The Hybrid Cordia would go on to win once more in 2014, this time in the hands of Rangiora local Matt Summerfield.