September 1, 2007, 4pm. Tyre wear that proved a little higher than expected cost New Zealand rally champion Richard Mason time during this morning’s 31-kilometre third special stage of the Rally of New Zealand.
The BNT Subaru Impreza WRX STi driver leads the NZ title section of the rally (where he’s 24 seconds ahead of Scotsman Alister McRae), and is running third among the production world rally championship cars.
He had contemplated changing two tyres between today’s first two tests and the long third stage, but had decided to go into this afternoon’s two crucial stages near Te Akau in the western Waikato with six fresh tyres available.
It was a gamble but Mason decided it was worth it.
He’d had a spin when he tried to brake and the worn tyres failed to give sufficient braking bite.
He’d also been caught in the aftermath of Finn Juho Hanninen’s second rollover.
“Spectators brought us to a standstill.
“It was a challenging stage, especially with tyres that were wearing out.”
But he was pleased with his progress up the order to be third in the PWRC field.
Mason said he planned to push hard in this afternoon’s Te Akau stages.
“I love both Te Akau stages. In my little book of good (rally) stages, they’re right up there. If they’re dry, the grip levels are fantastic.
“I love running in Rally NZ when it’s dry (as it is today).”
Photo caption: Richard Mason (file photograph).