"What will it take to win at Whangarei?" That's the feelings of double New Zealand Rally Champions Richard & Sara Mason as their victory at the International Rally of Whangarei went up in smoke in the Waipu Gorge at Sunday lunchtime.
Having won eight of the 12 high-speed special stages, and almost doubled their overnight lead to a massive 46 seconds, the Masterton Flyers were right on track to repeat their 2006 success in New Zealand's round of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship.
But then, just like at their previous FIA event - WRC Rally New Zealand last August - Special Stage 13 stepped in to deal a bitter blow.
"It really was a mirror image of Rally NZ," said Richard. "We had won all the Day 2 stages and had the BNT Subaru exactly where we wanted it to be for the final run home.
"Then it all just happened without any prior warning. We blasted off the start line as usual, suddenly the car faltered and our rally went up in smoke!
"Sara said before the Start that we were going to do this one in 'Rally NZ Mode', but we sure didn't plan to have exactly the same 'Rally NZ outcome'......"
"But, as always with this sport we are so passionate about, we live to fight another day, and that is exactly what we will be doing at home next month," concluded Richard.
The penultimate round of the championship is the Trust House Racetech Rally Wairarapa on the weekend of July 18 and 19.