New Zealand Rallying's top couple, Richard and Sara Mason perfectly executed their pre-event game plan to take a resounding victory at round two of the New Zealand Rally Championship [NZRC] - Rally Otago - last weekend - May 10-11.
Setting the fastest time on all thirteen special stages showed just how dominant the Masterton Flyers were as they powered their bright yellow BNT Subaru over the blind brows and crests at breakneck speed. Their Average Speed for the 245k [kilometres] was over 104kph.
A Special Stage Clean Sweep is an extremely rare feat, especially at this level of the sport. In fact it's five years since it was last done, coincidentally by Richard and Laurie Brenssell [now the Vantage Aluminium Joinery NZRC Co-Ordinator] in the Tom's Autos Evo 5 at Hawkes Bay in 2003.
"Sara and I really enjoy the roads in Otago and were very keen to extend the 14 point lead [in the NZRC] we established last month at Wairarapa. So to head up north to Whangarei with it now more than doubled [to 29] is a great return for all the effort the BNT Mason Motorsport Team put in to achieve such an awesome result. It simply could not be any better," said an ecstatic Richard.
Their successful defence of last year's victory at this, the southern-most event of the six round series, not only doubles the Mason's wins
at Dunedin, but also means that since Sara started co-driving for him in 2005, Richard has now won 11 of his last 17 NZRC round starts - a staggering 65% Strike Rate..
And not to be outdone, the new Mrs Mason's 10th win means she has just become the most successful Co-Driver still competing in the NZRC and joins Wellington's Jim Robb in 4th place on the Co-Drivers' Roll of Honour.
Richard now sits alone in 4th place on the NZRC All-Time Round Winners' List on 13 and closing in on multiple champion Bruce Herbert.
Thirteen proved to be a very lucky number at Otago as the 13 stage wins that led to Richard's 13th round win were matched by 19 year old Andre Meier [who was Car #13 at Otago in Richard's 2005 NZRC winning 'BYACAR'] who also won every stage in the NZRC Rookie category and now enjoys a massive 50 point lead in that series.
"Sara and I feel our decision to help young up-and-comers is proving very worthwhile and with Andre way out in front in the Rookies and Kirsty repeating her Wairarapa performance as the fastest female driver, it sure was a perfect weekend.
"Now we can look forward with a great deal of confidence to taking on the Internationals at our APRC round at Whangarei, when we can have a crack at repeating our win the last time this event was based in Rotorua back in 2006."
Rally Otago Website
For Rally Results & Information
The NAC Insurance Hella International Rally of Whangarei website
VANTAGE ALUMINIUM JOINERY 2008 NEW ZEALAND RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
1. 12-13 April Rally Wairarapa
2. 10-11 May Rally Otago
3. 07-08 June Rally of Whangarei *
4. 26-27 July Rally of Hawkes Bay
5. 28-31 August Rally New Zealand **
6. 20-21 September Rally Nelson
* FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship
** FIA World Rally Championship