Otago Rally leader Richard Mason edges further ahead as Emma Gilmour starts to turn up the wick and consolidate herself in second place; and Dean Sumner reflects on a morning that went wrong.
Mason edges further ahead
Dunedin, April 14, 2007, 3.20pm. Reigning champion Richard Mason has eased a little further ahead of Emma Gilmour in the Otago Rally, Round 1 of the 2007 New Zealand championship.
Mason (Subaru Impreza WRX STi) continued his clean-sweep of stage wins in SS5, Waipori Gorge, covering the 12.76km in 8m 14.1s, 1.4 seconds faster than Gilmour (Impreza) who has come into her own on the past two stages, leapfrogging past Brett Martin’s Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9.
Martin was third on the stage, ahead of Sam Murray (WRX).
Then came Lancer Evo driver Dylan Turner and Chris West (Evo 6.5).
Overall, Mason leads Gilmour by 10.2 seconds, with Martin 7.1 seconds further back.
Murray runs fourth, ahead of Turner and Scotsman Alister McRae (WRX). West is ninth overall in the older Lancer which doesn’t have a “dog” gearbox.
Mark Tapper continues to lead the Ford Fiesta Challenge section, from Chris Lange and Kayne Barrie.
Former NZ champion Reg Cook scored a class win on Stage 5, bringing his Nissan Pulsar through the test 1.1 seconds ahead of Kiwi 2 class stalwart Dave Strong (Honda Civic).
Overall, Strong leads the category, from Aaron Cook (Honda Jazz) and Reg Cook.
Robert Murray, who set the 11th fastest time in SS5, leads the classic car section of the NZ championship in his Mazda RX7.
Sumner: not the start I wanted
Dunedin, April 14, 2007, 3.20pm. Dean Sumner says he’ll start tomorrow’s second heat of Rally Otago after being eliminated from today’s competition by a blow turbocharger on his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9.
A despondent Sumner said the turbo had blown during Special Stage 2, McLaren Gully.
He had completed that test at reduced speed, and withdrew after SS3 which took the cars back from the coast to the service park at Lake Waihola.
Sumner said he hadn’t been happy with his speed on the day’s opening test, Whare Flat. “The car felt good, though.”
He had been taking the first stage cautiously to ease himself back into rallying after the summer layoff. “I didn’t want to do anything silly in the first stage of the season.
“I can’t believe it,” he said of the turbo failure. “(But) the boys are fixing it and I hope to rejoin tomorrow.
“(I’m unhappy to) miss out on driving time,
“It’s a bad start to the championship, that’s for sure,”