From Mill Road to White Horse Monument, the Waimate 50 Hillclimb’s new location has cars ripping up Parkers Bush Road just outside of Waimate, New Zealand for three days of competitive fun. While the hillclimb usually runs on paved city streets, the organizers decided to make some changes after being shut down for COVID reasons last year. Moving to a combo of tarmac and gravel, the hillclimb returned this year. And like America’s most famous hillclimb, the Waimate 50 was absolutely dominated by a machine powered exclusively by electrons.
One-time WRC rally winner and former Hyundai factory team driver Hayden Paddon has been busy down in New Zealand building and racing this Kona EV rally car. The guy was kind of always on the cusp of success in WRC, but never quite found enough to stay in the series, but that clearly doesn’t mean he isn’t a super talented driver, and wins like this continue to prove it. From the off, everyone in Waimate knew that the electric machine would be the one to beat. Even on gravel, the car’s explosive power shone.
While most electric vehicles racing at hillclimbs need to have sound machines installed to warn spectators that they’re not only on course, but they’re barreling down on you in rapid fashion, this Hyundai makes enough of its own noise from the electric drivetrains to forego such a device. It’s pretty bonkers to hear this thing ripping around, but if you can hear this and say electric cars don’t offer any dynamic motorsport sound, you’re just looking for excuses not to love them at this point.
In full hillclimb trim, this car produces over 700 horsepower, which is apparently enough to shove around this car’s heavy (at least 3300 pounds, but exact figures aren’t provided) weight frame. Clearly with four driven wheels and instant electric torque, the car was able to drive off corners without so much as a stutter, and the high downforce hillclimb package that Paddon and his squad fitted it with worked a charm.
Here’s hoping more teams follow in Paddon’s footsteps, building high-power electric hillclimb monsters. It truly feels like electric vehicles have progressed to the hot rodding phase that gasoline engines saw in the 1950s. People all over the world are in the process of figuring out how to make them go incredibly fast, and it rules!