By Chris Grant
Double New Zealand Rally Champion Richard Mason and Co-Driver/Fiancee Sara Randall's title hopes took a blow after enduring a very eventful time at the Hella International Rally of Whangarei last weekend - May 11-13.
A series of punctures stranded their BNT Subaru at the end of Day One and saw them record their first DNF [Did Not Finish] on home soil for almost three years [Rotorua 2004 being the last].
Hopes were high for a classic Mason fightback on Sunday [Day Two], but heavy contact with a rock face in Stage 12 inflicted substantial damage to the driver's side and ruined any chance of a good points haul for Leg Two.
Richard and Sara also found themselves first car on the scene of Emma Gilmour's big crash near the end of Stage 12.
Just like the law of the sea, rendering assistance when required is the absolute priority and any thoughts of the rally disappeared as they initiated the call for the rally's emergency services assistance and ensured Emma and Glenn were ok.
That achieved the Masterton Flyers rejoined the rally and eventually finished 9th in the Leg to take home just 12 points for the weekend's efforts - a result that sees them drop to 3rd place in the championship, 23 points behind the new series leader and Rally Whangarei winner Hayden Paddon.
"I am just happy to finish and not lose more points. After our crash, and then the Emma situation which was very unsettling, we were really just going through the motions to get home in one piece."
"And to think that after all this we are still third in the championship - and well within striking distance of the new leaders and with the next round at home in Masterton, we still feel confident 'all is far from lost.'
With a three week break between rounds, the Vantage Aluminium Joinery New Zealand Rally Championship now moves to Masterton for Queen’s Birthday weekend (2-3 June).
For further information about the Hella International Rally of Whangarei May 11-13 2007 - www.rallywhangarei.co.nz
For Rally Results & Information - www.chrissport.co.nz
For further information about the 2007 Vantage Aluminium Joinery New Zealand Rally Championship - www.motorsport.org.nz/Rally/nzrc/index.htm