NZ champion Richard Mason has won all three stages of the Otago Rally in fine and cool weather and holds an almost nine-second lead at the first service break.
Dunedin, April 14, 2007, 11.50am. Three stages into the Otago Rally, and Richard Mason is showing dominant form, winning all three tests and opening an 8.9-second lead.
The Masterton Subaru WRX STi driver has yet to be really challenged on any of the special stages, though Emma Gilmour (WRX) gave him a close run on SS3, an 8.12 kilometre sprint on which both of them averaged more than 102km/h.
She charged through the stage in 4m 46.5s, 1.4 seconds adrift of Mason’s time.
Her Stage 3 performance has catapulted Gilmour into second place overall after she took three seconds out of Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 driver Brett Martin’s margin. Martin – who was roughly two seconds behind Mason on each of the first two stages – is third overall as the cars complete the initial loop of stages. He’s 00.4 seconds behind Gilmour.
Hayden Paddon (Evo 8) runs fourth overall, 10.3 seconds behind Martin and eight-tenths of a second in front of
Sam Murray’s WRX.
Next up is former World Rally Championship driver Alister McRae (WRX), another 1.7 seconds behind.
Aucklander Dylan Turner (Evo 9) is seventh with stand-in co-driver Damon McLachlan.
Turner had initially been listed further down the order until his Special Stage 2 timing card was found to be a minute out. Similarly affected was Dean Sumner (Evo 9) who is now out of the event after the turbocharger blew in SS3.
Stewart Taylor (Evo 9) runs eighth, two seconds ahead of Chris West (Evo 6.5).
American Ken Block completes the top 10 in his Sam Murray-run WRX.
Mark Tapper leads the Ford Fiesta challenge by 42.5 seconds from Southlander Chris Lange. Kayne Barrie is third in class.
Dave Strong is the first of the Kiwi 2 (2WD) runners in his Honda Civic. He’s 10.4 seconds behind the leading 2WD car, Tapper’s Fiesta.
Second in Kiwi 2 is Reg Cook (Nissan Pulsar), followed by Andrew Keighley (Honda CRX del Sol).
Christchurch driver Deane Buist leads the international classic rally – which runs behind the NZ championship event – by 4.9 seconds after SS2.
The Ford Escort BDA driver is followed by Robert Murray (Mazda RX7) and former WRC driver, Italian Alex Fiorio, who is another 10.5 seconds further back in his Porsche 911.
Crews have five more stages to complete before the finish in Dunedin this evening. Heat 2 of the event runs tomorrow.
- Mike Stock in Dunedin.
Log back in for further updates on the Otago Rally, along with an end-of-day wrap-up.