Richard Mason has produced a champion’s drive to build a 28-second buffer going into the finale stage of Leg 1 of the Otago Rally.
Dunedin, April 14, 2007, 4.10pm. Reigning New Zealand champion Richard Mason is on his way back to Dunedin City with Heat 1 of the Otago Rally all but in the bag.
The Subaru Impreza WRX STi driver has won all seven stages run so far today and with just a two-kilometre test to go around streets in the Dunedin wharf area, is 27.9 seconds ahead of second-placed Emma Gilmour (WRX).
Scotsman Alister McRae runs third in another WRX, though he’s 57.6 seconds behind Mason.
Brett Martin (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) suffered heartbreak when a mechanical problems sidelined him in SS7, Breakneck Road. He had looked set to score at least a solid third place, and had been within striking distance of Gilmour before the stage began.
Dylan Turner is flying the Mitsubishi flag at fourth overall in his Evo 9 after an excellent performance which has seen him consistently among the fastest cars.
He’s just 2.9 seconds ahead of Sam Murray (WRX) which is not a comfortable margin.
Hayden Paddon is another 5.1 seconds further back in his Evo 8, just 1.7 seconds in front of former champion Chris West who is having a one-off drive in an Evo 6.5.
Mark Tapper leads the Fiesta challenge class from Chris Lange, and in Kiwi 2, Dave Strong (Honda Civic) leads from Aaron Cook (Honda Jazz-Type R).
By the previous test, Stage 6, it was raining and conditions were unpleasant.
Mason poured on the pace in that stage, Corkscrew Road, taking 5.8 seconds off Gilmour, and extending his overall lead to 16 seconds.
Third-placed Martin now ran 21.9 seconds behind Mason and McRae had leapt into the top four, 45.8s behind the leader.
Then came Turner and Murray.