Richard Mason will be looking for his third successive victory on this weekend’s Rally of Otago, the second round of the National Championship
With co-driving wife Sara, the Masterton flyer has won the event for the last two years in his Subaru Impreza WRX STI.
The southern event, often run in adverse cold slippery conditions has been a Subaru hunting ground, as the marque has won the rally for the last five years.
Since winning the opening round of the championship in Hawkes Bay last month, Mason and his team have been fine tuning the suspension of the Impreza WRX STI. “There’s always something extra you can do with the handling,” said Mason.
And he is not too concerned if the current cold snap and its snow and ice linger until the weekend. “We haven’t had a real snowy event for a long time,” said Mason. “It would add a new dimension to things.”
Mason will start first on the road on Saturday morning as the leader of the championship, while defending champion Haydon Paddon is second away.
“I enjoy the event,” said Mason. “A lot of the stages are quite fast and there are different surfaces. It’s a tricky rally, but we’ve always gone well down here, even when we haven’t won.”
Also looking to go well will be Dunedin born and bred Emma Gilmour on what she considers her “home” event – even if she now lives in Hamilton.
Gilmour was third in Hawkes Bay and last weekend finished third in a new shape Impreza WRX STI on the Australian round of the Asia Pacific Championship in Queensland.
She has led the Otago event in the past and finished runner-up to Mason in 2007. She will revert to her locally based Subaru for the event, which now has five stages in the Middlemarch region of Central Otago, rather than relying solely on the forests south of Dunedin for its competitive distance.
Gilmour starts the event as fourth seed, with partner Glen Macneall reading the pace notes.
The rally will be run over 14 stages totaling 256 kms over the two days.