A blown engine has ended Richard Mason's dream of finishing first Kiwi and winning Group N in Rally NZ
Richard Mason’s quest to be first New Zealander to finish in Repco Rally New Zealand has ended in bitter disappointment.
The BNT Subaru Impreza WRX STi’s engine blew a short distance into the Whaanga Coast stage near Raglan.
Mason says there was no indication that anything was wrong with the engine.
“There was no indication whatsoever. We went up to the startline and there was no smoke, nothing.
“But as we left the startline the car had no power and there was some smoke. We thought it was the turbo and we started driving through the stage.
“We got a little way in, and suddenly it was blowing out a lot of oil and smoke, so we stopped.”
The engine failed at a time when Mason led his nearest Kiwi rival by around three minutes and was also leading the standard production class, ahead of the production world championship regulars.
“It’s a pain in the arse. It’s been a tough old year.
“We understand the sport (can be tough) but it’s bloody hard when you get knocked down all the time.
“We haven’t been running the car any differently this weekend.”
Mason has won three rounds of the New Zealand championship – the two opening rounds at Wairarapa and Otago and yesterday’s rally within a rally.
But in Whangarei he rolled on day one and the car was too badly damaged to continue, and in Hawke’s Bay the transmission broke.
He won yesterday’s round by a shade over three minutes from new champion Hayden Paddon and was leading Group N by one and half minutes when the engine failed this morning.
Mason was entered in the PWRC category because he didn’t have enough budget but had set out to be first Kiwi finisher for the third year running and aimed to be the first Group N driver home.
Paddon (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) is now the leading Kiwi, from Subaru driver Emma Gilmour and Stewart Taylor (Evo 9).
More from Rally NZ as the day progresses.
Newsflash: Ford works driver Jari-Matti Latvala has crashed out of the event a short way into the second pass through Whaanga Coast.