Double New Zealand Rally Champion Richard Mason and partner Sara Randall can't wait to get their BNT Subaru out onto the fabulous Waikato stages.
That's what lays lie in wait for them as they make their debut in the Production
car World Rally Championship [P-WRC] section of the WRC Propecia Rally New Zealand
New Zealand's top rally pairing are in the middle of the pre-rally reconnaissance
and are amazed at the quality of the roads that have been chosen in this heavily
revamped 37th edition of this country's biggest annual sporting event.
"The roads are just superb, and in fantastic condition. It's a great credit
to all involved how good they are, especially with the weather we have been
having," said Richard. "That long [44k] Te Koraha stage is rally drivers'
paradise, with everything from tight twisty Motu-like sections, to super-fast
open stuff. That one is really going to play a key part in the final outcome,
particularly as we do it twice on Friday."
"And then there's Whaanga [Coast], where we came unstuck back in 2004
when we were way out in front as the leading Kiwis, so we have very much unfinished
business with that brilliant piece of road [twice] on Sunday."
Only two of the seventeen high speed special stages were used last year and
as Richard missed 2005 due to a lack of funds, the pace note writing has been
a virtual 'start from scratch' exercise.
One of those two is the famous Whaanga Coast and Sara says they started off
on it yesterday using the notes Richard and then Co-Driver Hamish Fenemor wrote
back in 2004. However they soon discovered just how much Richard's driving style
has developed and matured since then and found the old notes were virtually
useless and even misleading, so reverted to the 'blank page' policy.
"To, at last, get to travel over such world famous stages, even at recce
speed, is a dream come true for me," said Sara. "And after our experiences
in China and how rough the roads are on other WRC rounds, I can see exactly
why the top guys rave so much about how much fun the New Zealand roads are,
with their smooth surface and heavily banked corners that just flow on and on."
"The pace of these [virtually professional] P-WRC teams is going to be
amazing, so if we are to stand any chance of mixing it with them we have to
be right at the top of our game right from the start on Friday morning."
"And that is our main aim this weekend - to do the best we possibly can,
to get a clear indication of just what it takes to compete against the world's
best," said the Masterton Flyer.
"There's no doubt this Propecia Scholarship initiative by Rally New Zealand
has given us an opportunity we could have only ever dreamed about otherwise
and we plan to make the most of it."
Propecia Rally New Zealand is the penultimate round of this year's WRC and
starts in Hamilton's Hood Street on Thursday night from 7.30pm.
Competition runs for the following three days with the Mystery Creek Events
Centre as the hub of the whole event housing Rally HQ, the superb central Service
Park and a Super Special Stage will be held there at 6pm on both Friday and
The Rally Finish takes place there from 3pm on Sunday and will include an opportunity
for all crews to perform 'donuts' on the skid pan in front of the Finish Ramp.