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Mason grabs early lead


Series leader holds a good lead after first stage of Rally Otago

Richard Mason has leapt to an immediate lead in the Southern Cross Hotel Rally of Otago, opening an eight-second gap on his nearest rival on Special Stage 1.

Mason drove the BNT Subaru Impreza WRX STi through the 28-kilometre Akatore stage in 16m 21.2s, to open a lead of 8.3 seconds over Hayden Paddon’s green team Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9.

Stewart Taylor (Evo 9) who won leg one of the series’ opening round at Wairarapa last month, lies third, followed by Brett Martin in another Lancer.

Emma Gilmour is fourth in her WRX, with a time of 17m 16.3s.

Then comes Dean Sumner (Evo 9), 8.2 seconds further back.

Teenaged star in the making Sloan Cox (Evo 8) was 4.6 seconds slower then Sumner, despite an off-road excursion which left the Lancer trailing its rear bumper.

In trouble already was Chris West – expected to be one of the stars of the event – who picked up a puncture in his Evo 9 Lancer. West dropped more than three minutes to Mason.

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