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Mason continues to edge ahead


NZRC points leader Richard Mason has won all four stages run so far in the Rally of Otago.

Richard Mason continues to extend his lead after four stages – just over half-way through Leg 1 – of the Rally of Otago, round two of the 2008 NZ Rally Championship.

The twice NZ champion has won all four stages, each time from Hayden Paddon, and is now 17.1 seconds ahead of the South Canterbury driver.

Mason (Subaru Impreza WRX STi) flew through Special Stage 3, a 6.381km test at Coal Gully, averaging 123.42kph and taking 1.3 seconds off Paddon (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9).

Chris West, continuing his fightback after puncturing a tyre on SS1 – a stage that was littered with sharp rocks that caused several drivers to back off – was third-fastest in his Evo 9, though he was still 10th overall.

West was 3m 22s behind Mason, but was closing on the ninth-placed car, the Kiwi 2 class-leading front-wheel drive Honda Civic Type-R of Dave Strong.

Stewart Taylor (Evo 9) continued his strong run, and was fourth-fastest on SS3, ahead of Emma Gilmour who has struggled all morning with a front-end problem in her Vantage WRX STi.

Mason added 3.1 seconds to his lead on SS4, Kai Forest, a test which had been shortened by 13km at the end of the scheduled distance because of cut up roads.

West was again third, leap-frogging past Strong and Grant Barber (WRX) in the overall standings and shaving a few tenths of a second off the gap to Mason.

The same cars finished in the top four on this test, but 16-year-old Sloan Cox (Evo 8) turned in a blinder, emerging exactly one second behind fourth-placed Taylor

Stages 3 and 4 both started several minutes late after the #00 course-opening car rolled in SS3.

Patrick Malley has retired his Ford Fiesta after it struck engine trouble in SS1, leaving newcomer Ben Jagger in charge in the poorly-supported Ford Fiesta Challenge.

After SS4, the NZ Championship order in Leg 1 is: Mason, Paddon, Taylor, Brett Martin (Evo 9), Dean Sumner (Evo 9), Cox, Gilmour, West, Barber and Strong.

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