Double New Zealand rally champion Richard Mason produced one of his trademark blistering drives to turn a 79-second deficit into a 23-second victory margin in the Targa New Zealand marathon tarmac rally which finished in Wellington on Saturday
Mason, co-driven by wife Sara, overcame atrocious weather to take the BNT Subaru Impreza WRX STi past Joe McAndrew’s Nissan Skyline and win the Dunlop-sponsored five-day event.
Mason started the final day 79 seconds behind McAndrew, who own the Targa in 2006 and 2007, with 90 kilometres of stages to travel.
He halved the margin in the first two stages (30km of the distance) as the weather deteriorated.
After a safety-first double traverse of the treacherous Paekakariki stage, he went into the final set of tests 50 seconds behind the Wellingtonian.
But in two passes of the 10.5km Moonshine Road test, Mason cut the gap to zero and he and McAndrew went into the final 14km Makara stage equal on five hours 57 minutes 17 seconds after 700 kilometres of flat-out tarmac driving.
Mason made no race of the last test, recording his 16th stage victory to win the event by 23 seconds.
The Wairarapa driver has won every major rally he finished this season, and came home second behind Hayden Paddon in the 2008 New Zealand Rally Championship.