BNT Mason Motorsport repeat winning performance at NZRC Rally Otago
Following last month’s victory at Whangarei – the opening round of the 2014 Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship driven by Vinz – four times New Zealand Rally Champions Richard and Sara Mason have repeated that performance last weekend at the other end of the country at round 2 – the DriveSouth Rally of Otago.
In a totally dominant performance the Masterton Flyers won all but one of the 14 high-speed special stages over the daunting crests and brows for which Rally Otago is renowned.
“The rain at the [Ceremonial] Start on Friday night confirmed for us that running first on the road was the right choice,” said Richard. “So we set about controlling the rally from the front. We did that and with the BNT Subaru running really well, we always felt comfortable.”
The Masons rammed home the advantage already gained after stage 2 by winning the monster 50k Manuka Hill stage – completed in a time of 23 minutes 30.8 seconds at an average speed of 126.6 kilometres per hour – by a whopping 43 seconds. So after just those first 3 stages they led the rest of the chasing pack by almost a minute and a half.
With such a healthy lead the Masons were able to drive for the rest of the rally without taking any undue risks. Even so they still won all 7 stages on Day One, including setting a new record on the tarmac Super Special Stage in the centre of Dunedin.
Sunday’s Leg 2 was more of the same with another string of fastest stage times posted. A comfortable win on the rollicking rollercoaster that is the 15 kilometres of Kuri Bush was rewarded with 5 NZRC Power Stage points. This was immediately followed by new stage records for both the tricky MacIntosh Road and the iconic Waipori Gorge as their lead extended with every passing kilometre.
That was until halfway through the gnarly 41k of Berwick Forest when the BNT Subaru picked up a right front puncture. With 20k still to run the Masons immediately stopped and changed the flat tyre and were underway again inside 3 minutes. With the demise of their nearest competitor – Emma Gilmour – earlier in that same stage, they actually only lost 2 seconds to the new second placed car, but had dropped to 6th – and most importantly out of the NZRC points – for the day..
So Stage 13 was “Go For It” material. The BNT Subaru again comprehensively won that 25k stage by 20 seconds and immediately recovered to be back up to 2nd for the day.
So, just like Leg 2 at Whangarei, 2nd was the best they could expect, so a smooth drive over the final two stages – albeit still setting fastest times on both – ensured safe passage to the finish in front of the Dunedin Railway Station, to record the second biggest winning margin at an NZRC round since Richard and, the then, Sara Randall won at the 2006 International Rally of Rotorua by over 8 minutes.
“We head back north extremely satisfied with our performance this weekend”, said Richard. “The BNT Mason Motorsport Team – as always – did an awesome job for us and sincere thanks to everyone, and it’s neat to be able to reward all their hard work with a record-breaking 5th NZRC round win down here.”
Winning Whangarei by 3 minutes 53.2 seconds and repeating that at Otago by 4 minutes 11.5 seconds clearly shows the dominance of the Masterton Flyers who have now travelled over 487 kilometres in these two rallies a whopping 484 seconds faster than their rivals…..
The Masons now hold a massive 45 point lead in the championship as they begin preparations for the next round at the end of the month – over Queens Birthday weekend – in North Canterbury.
“The season could not have started much better for us,” said Richard, “and we can now look forward to the remaining four one-day rounds very positively.”
BNT Mason Motorsport are very proud to again have the support of BNT, Dunlop, B.W.O’Brien, ScottSpeed Performance Engines, Geartech, MCA Suspension, Hopper Construction, Race Brakes, Randall & Associates, Quality Foods and Tom’s Autos, without whose invaluable assistance they would not be able to be celebrating a decade at the top of NZ rallying.