Richard Mason had to settle for second place on the Rally of Otago on Sunday after a last stage puncture blunted his charge for victory
Mason and co-driver wife Sara in their Subaru Impreza WRX STI went into the final 40 kms forestry stage just 0.8 of a second behind eventual winner Hayden Paddon, confident of a winning run.
“We beat Haydon by a good amount on that stage on Saturday,” said Mason, “so I thought the win was still on.”
But 12 kms from the end of the stage the right rear tyre punctured and Mason from Masterton had to reduce his pace – relatively – and drive to the end of the stage.
After two days and 225 kms of rallying he was 19.7 seconds behind. The Masons had won the event in 2007 and 2008 and were looking for their third successive victory...
“We had a great tussle both days,” said Mason. “We got the better of it yesterday, but today it was Hayden’s turn. That’s rallying.”
Paddon, the defending champion from Geraldine, had led for most of Saturday’s first heat until Mason produced a scorching time on the penultimate forestry stage to take the lead.
Emma Gilmour (Hamilton) in another Subaru finished third another 20 seconds back.
On Sunday’s second heat it was again Paddon setting the pace, the back country roads of Central Otago near Middlemarch, seeming to suit him more.
Mason had appeared to gain a winning position after the first 25 kms of the final stage before the puncture slowed his pace.
Further back Andrew Hawkeswood (Alexandra) claimed third despite striking a steel forestry gate on the final stage, which peeled part of the roof off his car like a tin opener.
Gilmour finished fourth for the day and the weekend in her Impreza WRX STI, despite being slowed somewhat by a differential problem.
Rally of Otago National Rally Championship – Round Two
Heat 1: 1, R & S Mason (Subaru Impreza WRX STI) 78 mins 14.5 secs; 2, H Paddon, J Kennard (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9) 78.29.3; 3, E Gilmour, G Macneall (Subaru Impreza WRX STI) 78.49.5; 4, D Sumner, P Fallon (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9) 78.56.4; 5, A Hawkeswood, R Hudson (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo6) 79.08.9; G Argyle, T Cox (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo7) 79.55.5.
Heat 2: 1, Paddon, Kennard, 69.10.4; 2, Mason & Mason, 69.44.9; 3, Hawkeswood, Hudson, 70.01.6; 4, Gilmour, Macneall, 70.25.9; 5, Argyle, Cox, 71.03.4; 6, Sumner, Fallon, 71.21.0
Overall: 1, Paddon, Kennard; 2, Mason & Mason; 3, Hawkeswood, Hudson; 4, Gilmour, Macneall; 5, Sumner, Fallon; 6, Argyle, Cox.
National Championship Points: 1, Mason, 141; 2, Paddon, 131; 3, Gilmour, 104; 4, Sumner, 65; 5, C West (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9) 60.
Manufacturer’s Points: 1, Subaru, 215; 2, Mitsubishi, 169; 3, Ford, 59.