Higgins claims honours in hill climb

Limits were pushed on a Queenstown skifield road on Saturday as 36 drivers put their pedals to the metal during the 51st Queenstown Car Club Coronet Peak Hill Climb.

The winner of the Skyline Trophy was Mark Higgins, of Christchurch, who completed the final, windy 2.7km stretch of the skifield road in his Mitsubishi Evo in 1min 25.24sec.

Dunedin’s Glenn Frew came second, also in a Mitsubishi Evo, in 1min 27.26sec, while Cromwell rally driver Hayden Paddon finished third in 1min 28.52sec, driving his Hyundai Kona electric vehicle.

Former Queenstown Car Club president Stuart McLean said Paddon, who recorded a DNF in his first run when the car stopped just before the finish line, was "absolutely spectacular".

"What we have to remember is he’s probably one of the 25 best rally drivers in the world, and to see him performing on tarseal and sliding the car around as if he was on gravel was absolutely incredible".

Cromwell rally driver Hayden Paddon prepares to start a run during Saturday’s Coronet Peak Hill...
Cromwell rally driver Hayden Paddon prepares to start a run during Saturday’s Coronet Peak Hill Climb in his Hyundai Kona electric car. Paddon finished third in 1min 28.52sec. PHOTO: RHYVA VAN ONSELEN
McLean said the drivers were reaching speeds of about 200kmh on the straight before the first of two hairpin corners, and averaged 100kmh over the whole course, which also included several "slow corners".

"They’re certainly going quickly."

The Barry McMaster Trophy, awarded to the fastest Queenstown Car Club member on the day, this year went to Queenstown’s Steve Walak, who recorded 1min 37.21sec in his Honda.

"He did have a bit of a mishap on his second run ... he left the road and we thought, gee, that might be him for the day.

"But he was able to recover and had a very commendable drive, and we’re very pleased to see Steve get that trophy."

The course-record 79sec was set by Andrew Waite in Highlands Motorsport Park owner Tony Quinn’s Ford Focus in 2017.