BNT Mason Motorsport Drive South for repeat 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 are looking for a repeat performance this weekend at the other end of the country at round 2 – the DriveSouth Rally of Otago.
In recognition of being in the lead in the championship after their fine performance at Whangarei, the Masons are Car # 1, so at Friday evening’s Ceremonial Start in the Octagon, the Masterton Flyers will get first pick of where they want to start on the road when the high-speed action begins on Saturday morning.
“This could well be a deciding factor of the rally,” said Richard, “as the correct road position is vital for posting winning stage times.
“Recce on Thursday and Friday will be very important as this gives us a chance to check out the roads, while monitoring the weather forecasts for the weekend will also be a priority.
“Last year we were here in April after a dry summer, so the roads were hard-packed, dry and dusty. However we are here a month later this time and the locals tell us they are still waiting for summer to arrive, so that could well mean that the roads will be colder, softer and wetter.
“We don’t mind leading from the front and setting the pace. We have a car that is far more developed and better to drive than it was 12 months ago and Sara and I are comfortable with our form at Whangarei.
“So at this stage of our buildup to Saturday’s start we are good to go and all we need now is to make the right choice [of road position] on Friday night…..”
To add another twist, as this year’s Rally Otago is being run a month later than last year, the ‘higher’ roads north of Dunedin used in 2013 can be affected by snow should a cold snap occur, which means that this year’s route is avoiding this area and is therefore venturing much further south onto a number of roads that are new to this rally.
“There is a lot of ‘new’ territory to cover, so the one pass recce will be more important than ever,” said Richard. It’s always great to drive on new stages, so to mix them with our regular annual favourites like Kuri Bush and Waipori Gorge will all make for quite a challenge.”
“Although our natural instinct is to go to every rally looking to win, this year our priority for Otago has to be a repeat of Whangarei – be as fast as we need to be without taking any undue risks, so come Sunday afternoon we take away another top points haul.
“This will ensure we consolidate the great [points] platform we established with the win at Whangarei, as we build towards our season’s goal of a record-breaking 5th national rally championship title.”
Starting with an autograph session and opening ceremony in Dunedin’s Octagon from 5pm on Friday the high speed action of this the 21st consecutive NZRC edition of Rally Otago begins Saturday morning. Departing from outside the Southern Cross Hotel (High St) from 7:50am the field of 88 cars, including 28 contesting the championship, will cover seven special stages for the day, including the spectacular tarmac spectator stage in the central city at 3pm. The second and final day of eight special stages, again held largely to the south of the city, returns the teams to the Dunedin Railway station for the finish from 3pm.
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.