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Mason takes championship lead with Wairarapa Rally win.


Richard Mason dominated today’s second leg of the Wairarapa Rally to take overall victory in the two-heat event.

June 3, 2007, 6pm. Reigning New Zealand rally champion Richard Mason produced a dominant performance in today’s second leg of the Wairarapa Rally to cement an overall Round 3 victory and move into the 2007 national series lead.

It was Masterton resident Mason’s fourth successive victory on his home event.

Today, on roads that were typified before the rally as being more suited to Mitsubishi Lancers, the BNT Subaru Impreza WRX STi driver was unmatchable.

He won all eight special stages to back up his win in yesterday’s first leg. That had been harder work, the Impreza troubled by inconsistent handling caused by a faulty front diff.

The diff had been damaged when Mason had to drive 10 kilometres out of a stage in the series’ last round, in Northland, with a flat right-front tyre.

The diff problem didn’t show itself until the car was running in competition yesterday, and Mason was off the pace in the first three stages, dropping to fifth at one point, after posting two ninth-fastest and one six-fastest stage times.

He made suspension changes at the first service break, won the next three special stages and clawed his way the lead and the Leg 1 victory.

The problem couldn’t be sorted overnight, and Mason had to contend with a less-than-perfectly handling car today; but contend he did, never being threatened let alone beaten.

Second in today’s Leg 2, and second overall, was Dean Sumner in the ITM Lancer Evo 9, after a trouble-free run, though he did come under pressure today from first Callum McInnes (Milk Bar WRX) and then Hayden Paddon (Paddon Direct Evo 8).

But McInnes’ challenge was blunted when he picked up a right-rear puncture and had to drive several kilometres out of a special stage on a flat tyre. That cost him about 30 seconds and a chance of challenging for second place on Leg 2.

Paddon took up the challenge but even if he had got ahead of Sumner he still wouldn’t have had sufficient points to retain the championship lead he had gained by winning the series’ previous round in Whangarei.

Paddon finished third for the round; he had struggled for grip for most of the event, running first on the road and sweeping the loose gravel from the stage surfaces.

Paddon is now second in the championship, followed by Sam Murray who had a less than happy rally struggling for grip in the Fram Subaru Impreza.

Murray finished fourth overall for the round, and fifth in today’s second leg.

Fourth in today’s leg and fifth overall was Patrick Malley (Evo 9).

Mark Tapper won all 14 stages in the Ford Fiesta challenge section of the event to win both legs and the overall round.

Today he had battled hard with Kiwi 2 category winner Aaron Cook (Honda Jazz Type R) for the honour of being first two-wheel drive competitor to finish the event.

He succeeded, beating the Honda driver by 9.4 seconds on total elapsed time for the rally’s two legs.

Rally winner Mason was delighted with the turnaround in fortunes from Whangarei where he didn’t finish Leg 1 and crashed heavily during Leg 2.

He was even more delighted to have moved into the championship lead.

“It’s certainly nice to see that one bad result (Whangarei) doesn’t put you on the bottom of the pile.

“Hopefully now we can build on (the Wairarapa win) and get further towards our third title.”

- Story by Mike Stock. Photo of Richard Mason by Euan Cameron.


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