NZ Rally Championship points leader Richard Mason simply ran away from his opposition in today's first leg of the Otago Rally, round two of the 2008 Vantage Aluminium Joinery NZ Rally Championship.
Richard Mason has won Leg 1 of the Scenic Circle Otago Rally, completing a clean sweep of the day’s seven special stages.
He won the six gravel stages outright, and shared victory on the final tarmac test with Chris West. The old rivals completed the spectator-oriented Super Special, on roads in Dunedin’s docklands, in 1m 30.5s.
BNT Subaru Impreza WRX STi driver Mason took the lead from Special Stage 1 and built it into a 22.7s margin over Hayden Paddon’s green team Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 by the end of the rally.
Mason and Paddon ran away from their opposition, and the only driver to be within striking distance on the stages was West (Evo 9) whose chances
of a podium took a blow when he punctured on SS1, losing three minutes to Mason.
He fought back solidly for the rest of the rally to come home in fifth place, behind Dean Sumner’s ITM Evo 9.
The extent of Mason’s and Paddon’s domination of the event was shown by the gap to third place finisher Stewart Taylor who had won the first heat of round one in the Wairarapa last month.
Today, he was 2m 15.9s behind Mason.
Emma Gilmour brought her Vantage WRX STi home sixth after battling problems with the car’s front end all day.
Then came Grant Barber and rising young gun Andre Meier, both in WRXs.
Ninth after a spectacular drive was Dave Strong who won the Kiwi 2 class in his Honda Civic Type-R, with Kirsty Nelson completing the top 10 in her WRX.
Strong had got the better of a day-long battle with Aaron Cook (Honda Jazz), and on the final tarmac stage, they set equal times of 1m 36.4s.
Finn Pasi Hagstrom has won the rally’s Dunlop Classic section in his Porsche 911.
The rally resumes with Leg 2 at 7 o’clock tomorrow morning when drivers will face six more stages.
* The results quoted above are provisional. A wrap-up story with full results will be on this website this evening.