Hayden Paddon has won the 2019 Ashley Forest Rallysprint, setting a new record of 52.77 seconds. The previous record time of 54.96 seconds was set by rival Sloan Cox in 2017 when he cracked the previous record held for 17 years by the late Kim Austin (56.57 seconds).
“Hats-off to my team for their huge effort this week. Thrilled to win but the times are even more important to us,” commented Paddon.
In warm, dry and dusty conditions, the record was always going to be beaten, it was just a matter of by how much. In the lead up to the elimination rounds, Sloan Cox (Hillclimb Special Evo 8) set a time of 54.98 on his third run. Paddon went better setting a time of 54.14, breaking the Cox’s record 2017 time.
In the first elimination round of the top 32 cars, Paddon once again went under Cox’s previous record, a time of 54.18 seconds. Cox did a 54.88 with the next fastest competitor, Matt Summerfield (Subaru WRX STi) in third with a time of 58.38.
The field was eventually reduced to the top eight. Paddon broke 54 seconds setting another new time of 53.75 seconds. Unfortunately for Cox, he dropped a cylinder and was eliminated out of the contest. Paddon and Summerfield were joined in the top four by Garet Thomas (Subaru WRX STi) and Mike Tall (Mitsubishi Mirage).
Summerfield was the next quickest and lined up against Paddon for the final run setting his fastest time of 56.9 seconds, not enough to beat Paddon who went on to set a new record that may stand for a very long time, unless we see his return next season.
“We definitely have some unfinished business here,” said Paddon. “We will aim to come back next year if possible.”
Paddon came to the event this year having to revert to his rally spec engine as parts for his high horsepower engine had not arrived in time. Could we see the magical 50 second mark broken in 2020?
Class honours went to Jony Brenssell (Toyota Starlet) in the 1301-1600cc, Bert Murray (Mazda Rx7) in the Classic 2WD and Chris Hey (Toyota MR2) in the Unlimited 2WD. Hey has now won this title for the 12th time, setting a new class record of 1:01.73.