Record fifth title on the line at home rally
Masterton based rally driver Richard Mason has the opportunity to create history at his home rally this weekend, the Trusthouse Racetech Rally of Wairarapa. Mason holds a 68 point lead after three wins from three starts in the 2014 Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship driven by VINZ, and only needs a third place or better to secure a fifth national rally title, a feat unmatched in the sport.
With four national titles to his name already (2005, 2006, 2011 & 2012), Mason is equal with Manawatu’s Bruce Herbert for most number of championship victories.
Richard, and co-driving wife Sara are aware of the unique opportunity to take the record fifth title at their home event this weekend. “There would be nothing better than winning the championship by winning our home rally in front of all our family, friends and supporters,” stated Richard.
The challenge ahead of the Masons at the Masterton based event is 163 kilometres of competitive action on Saturday, with nine special stages on smooth flowing gravel roads through the Wairarapa sheep station country. With seven wins from nine previous starts at this event, and on current form in 2014, the competition have a task on their hands to break the Mason winning streak.
The closest challenger to Masons points lead is the19 year old rookie sensation of the 2014 season, Lance Williams from Te Aroha. Partnered by experienced co-driver Crunch Bennett and driving a Possum Bourne Motorsport prepared Subaru Impreza, Williams has consistently finished at all three rounds so far, to hold second in the championship. Third overall in the championship currently is Rangiora’s Matt Summerfield who dropped from second to third in the points standings after engine failure sidelined his Subaru at the last round in Canterbury.
Behind Summerfield in fourth is Tauranga’s David Holder, who has shown great pace at the last two events with podium finishes in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo. Holder is another impressing on his debut season in the outright four wheel drive category. Rounding out the top five contenders is Nelson driver Ben Hunt in another Subaru. Hunt finished second at the Canterbury event, and demonstrated the speed to take the challenge to Mason for the rally win, Hunt and co-driver Tony Rawstorn will be a pairing to watch at Wairarapa.
Leading the class battles heading into Wairarapa are two wheel drive competitors, Max Bayley (Hawkesbay – Ford Fiesta R2), Hamish Anderson (Canterbury – Toyota Levin), BNT Historic Challenge points leader, Marcus Van Klink from Canterbury in his spectacular Mazda RX7, and Gull Rally Challenge 4WD Darren Galbraith (Timaru – Mitsubishi Lancer Evo).
The Trusthouse Racetech Rally Wairarapa commences with a Mayoral Welcome and driver autograph session at the Copthorne Solway Hotel in Masterton on Friday evening from 6.30pm. Saturdays competitive action gets underway with the first special stage at 7.40am with a total of 163 kilometres of competition covered before the victory celebrations will be held from 5.30pm back at the Copthorne Solway Hotel in Masterton.
The Trusthouse Racetech Rally Wairarapa provides great spectator viewing opportunities with a number of Spectator vantage points. A rally map is available free to download from the event website www.rallywairarapa.co.nz, or it can be collected from Copthorne Solway Hotel in Masterton. Spectators are reminded to follow the instructions of marshals and ensure they stand well clear of the road’s edge – inside the taped off viewing areas.
The 2014 Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship driven by VINZ is contested over 6 rounds across the nation – Rally of Whangarei, 11-13 April; Rally of Otago, 10-11 May; Canterbury Rally, 01-02 June; Rally Wairarapa, 28 June; Rally Coromandel, 23 August; Daybreaker Rally (Manawatu), 27 September.
2014 Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship driven by VINZ – Points after round 3 of 6
1. Richard Mason (Masterton – Subaru Impreza) 114
2. Lance Williams (Te Aroha – Subaru Impreza) 46
3. Matt Summerfield (Rangiora – Subaru Impreza) 39
4. David Holder (Tauranga – Mitsubishi Lancer) 38
5. Ben Hunt (Nelson – Subaru Impreza) 36
6. Matt Jansen (Christchurch – Subaru Impreza) 18
7=. Chris West (Timaru – Mitsubishi Lancer) 17
7=. Phil Campbell (Tauranga – Mitsubishi) 17
7=. Andrew Hawkeswood (Auckland – Mazda 2) 17
10. Graeme Featherstone (Te Aroha – Mitsubishi) 16