NZ ace Richard Mason is leading the cream of the world's production car drivers as Rally NZ enters the second part of the event's opening day.
Richard Mason has continued his sensational form in the first test of the second set of special stages in Rally New Zealand, setting 15th fastest time overall and second in standard production.
The public road tests in today’s leg of Rally NZ are run in two passes through a set of three special stages, with a service break in between.
Mason has blazed through Pirongia for the second time in 17 minutes 42.1 seconds – 30 seconds faster than he cut out the same stage this morning.
He’s now 12th overall, following the retirement of works Subaru driver Chris Atkinson who rolled in Pirongia and subsequently stopped in the stage with as yet unspecified damage.
Mason is the leading Group N (standard production) driver, ahead of all of the production world championship contenders.
However, he isn’t running in the PWRC section, lacking enough money to buy an entry.
He aims to be first New Zealander to finish and also to win the production class overall.
Mason is the leading NZ championship contender, ahead of current points leader Hayden Paddon (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9), Stewart Taylor (Evo 9) and Emma Gilmour (WRX STi).
More from Rally NZ throughout the afternoon and evening.
Newsflash: Sebastien Loeb won the fifth stage and closed in on rally leader, Mikko Hirvonen, but has subsequently picked up 30 seconds in time penalties for starting stage six late. It’s thought that he did so to get a better starting position – and smoother road – for tomorrow. He has been hampered by running first on the road today.