Hayden Paddon is on target to win the Hawke's Bay Rally.
Richard Mason’s bid to take the lead of the Hawke’s Bay Rally ended about 15km from the end of Special Stage 5 when the BNT Subaru Impreza WRX STi’s transmission failed.
Mason had won the previous stage and had moved into second place, just 13s behind rally leader Hayden Paddon (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9).
He said that on SS5 he had been pushing hard and was confident of narrowing the gap further when the transmission broke.
It’s unclear yet whether it’s in a diff or the gearbox, but Mason expects to restart in the second leg of the event tomorrow.
Mason’s retirement has left Paddon with a handy 289.6s lead over fellow Evo 9 driver Chris West.
Brett Martin (Evo 9) was second to Paddon in SS5 (West was third on the stage) and is now third overall.
Dean Sumner (Evo 9) is fourth, ahead of Stewart Taylor (Evo 9) and Emma Gilmour (WRX).
Patrick Malley leads the Fiord Fiesta Challenge and is a creditable ninth overall, one place better than Classic section leader Robert Murray (Mazda RX-7).
Aaron Cook leads Kiwi 2 in his Honda Jazz Type-R.