Richard Mason, has surged to a 47-second lead in Leg 2 of the Otago Rally after winning today's fourth special stage - the rally's 11th - by more than 27 seconds. Mason has won all 11 tests.
Richard Mason predicted today’s fourth special stage in the Otago Rally, SS11, a 51-kilometre run through Duns forest, would be a crucial point in the event.
It may well have proven to be so. The BNT Subaru Impreza WRX STi driver absolutely destroyed his opposition there, winning the test by 27.6 seconds from Hayden Paddon (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) and extending his Leg 2 lead to 47.6 seconds.
Paddon’s performance was compromised by the loss of the intercom between him and co-driver John Kennard during the stage.
Chris West was the third fastest driver through the test, 9.5 seconds slower than Paddon at 31m 11.4s.
Evo 9 drivers Stewart Taylor and Brett Martin were next, followed by Callum McInnes (WRX) who has got back in front of Dean Sumner (Evo 9).
The big news in Kiwi 2 is the retirement of class leader Dave Strong whose Honda Civic Type-R has stopped in SS10 and parked with front axle problems.
That leaves arch-rival and defending champion Aaron Cook (Honda Jazz Type-R) well in charge: he’s a shade under two minutes ahead of Reg Cook (no relation) in his newly-developed Nissan Micra.
Emma Gilmour recorded the slowest time in the stage, the Vantage WRX STi now suffering from transmission problems to add to its engine maladies. Gilmour stopped in SS11, Duns, for a period.
In the overall Leg 2 standings, Mason leads from Paddon, Taylor, Martin, West, McInnes, Sumner, Sloan Cox (Evo 8) and WRX drivers, Kirsty Nelson and Andre Meier.
The driver and co-driver who were involved in the crash in the Classic Rally field in this morning’s opening stage, have been airlifted to Dunedin Hospital. Their injuries are said not to be serious.