Double New Zealand Rally Champions, Richard and Sara Mason, believe a tactical approach is the recipe to success at this weekend's third round of the New Zealand Rally Championship
After winning three of the four daily heats run so far, NZ's rallying couple see, at the very least, the retention of their current 10 point lead in the five round series as their priority for the weekend 'Up North'.
Especially as, for the last two years, this particular event has not been kind to the Masterton Flyers and their bright yellow BNT Subaru.
"In spite of our recent results there, I certainly like the roads and look forward to driving them every year," said Richard.
An added attraction of the Whangarei-based event this year is the return of the Batley stage near Maungaturoto, which has not been used since the WRC days. Other stages are being used in the opposite direction to usual.
"So the changes to the route will be a new challenge," said Richard, who will be running the BNT Subaru on the more powerful FIA control fuel as the event is again a round of the FIA Asia Pacific [APRC] regional series.
As the leading non-APRC registered entry, the Masons will be starting right behind the top Asia Pacific drivers, a potential advantage if the roads remain dry over the weekend.
"Hopefully they'll be sweeping the roads for us," said Richard. "And starting 8th on the road should be just about the perfect position to take advantage of the best possible road conditions when our Dunlop Tyres can perform at their best.
"But, as always, time will tell and we have a number of tactical options in place to make the most of whatever comes our way throughout the course of the two days.
"It's also very pleasing to have worked out why the BNT Subaru wasn't performing at it's best down south, because we knew it just didn't feel quite right.." concluded Richard.
"This will be the closest we'll get to '[WRC] Rally New Zealand Mode' this year," said Sara. "Using the FIA Fuel, doing a 2 pass Recce to get the best out of our own customised Pace Notes, being able to carry two spare tyres, going head-to-head with Top International Competition, and using Drivers' Roads made world famous by the best in the sport - it really doesn't get much better.
"And that seems to be when we perform at our best, so this really is an opportunity not to be missed.
"If we can come away with a good haul of [NZRC] points and still winning the Championship, then it will be smiles all round for us come Sunday evening.."
Vantage New Zealand Rally Championship - Goldstar championship points (top-10 after two rounds)
1 Richard Mason 141
2 Hayden Paddon 131
3 Emma Gilmour 104
4 Matt Jansen 68
5 Dean Sumner 65
6 Chris West 60
7 Josh Marston 56
8 Ben Jagger 48
9 Daniel Harris 42
10 Sloan Cox 41