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A dominant start-to-finish victory at last Saturday’s Possum Bourne Memorial Rally was also history-making for four times New Zealand Rally Champions Richard and Sara Mason.
 
By claiming his 23rd round win, Richard has now moved ahead of triple champion Neil Allport to become the most successful driver in the history of the New Zealand Rally Championship [NZRC}.
 
“It’s been a rather frustrating 12 months in the making,” said a delighted Richard. “We thought we were there as far back as Gisborne last August, and this year has been a real rollercoaster of emotions – until now….
 
“We couldn’t be happier. To do it at the most significant rally on this year’s calendar – the 10th anniversary of Possum - and with all the top contenders here and in the spiritual home of North Island rallying – Maramarua Forest - makes it very special indeed.”
 
In fact the other 52 starters were never given a chance as the Masterton Flyers grabbed the initiative by blasting through the very first stage, and even when the BNT Subaru lost 3rd gear and then developed a serious misfire for 3 stages, the Masons were still well in charge and their lead was never seriously threatened.
 
“We thought we were in for more heartache just one k [kilometre] into the first stage when 3rd gear let go and I had to drive by shifting from 2nd directly to 4th and vice versa. Then the misfire started and we were really pleased to only drop 4 seconds of our lead as we nursed the wounded BNT Subaru through to service at Te Kauwhata.”
 
That’s where the BNT Mason Motorsport service crew showed their class as they leapt into action and in less than 30 minutes the gearbox was replaced and the BNT Subaru was on its way back to Maramarua to resume the contest, albeit still with the misfire, but without incurring any Time Penalties.
 
“It’s not exactly an easy job to change a gearbox, particularly inside 30 minutes,” said Richard. “We therefore knew we wouldn’t have enough time to fix the misfire as well,
so the gearbox became the priority, and what an awesome job the guys did. Adrian and Dwight were a sight to behold, while Dom, Cade and Alan did all the routine work normally done by the entire crew. They really are a fantastic team. And special thanks to Smithy and Myles for joining in when they could to make sure we still got out on time.”
 
Even with the misfire, the lead was increased over the next two stages and following the second visit to the Te Kauwhata Service, the misfire was cured and BNT Subaru was restored to full health.
 
By the end of two more gravel stages the Masons had almost doubled their advantage, and then came the tarmac of Hampton Downs, Ardmore Quarry Road and a final blast around the Pukekohe Park Raceway.
 
This is where the defending national champions really came into their own as, in just 28k of seal, they turned a 47 second lead into a 2 minute 8 second winning margin. A rate of almost 3 seconds per kilometre faster than their nearest opposition.
 
“I don’t know what it is about tarmac, but we seem to go really well whenever we get onto the black stuff,” said Richard, “Ardmore Quarry Road in particular was just awesome…That new Scottspeed engine really is something…..WOW…!!! Thanks Dwight..!!
 
“This win rates right up there, if not as one of our best, then certainly as one of our most important, as it was make or break for our championship aspirations this year.
 
“It’s also done wonders for our confidence, especially after the frustrations at other events so far this year, and with so much more still to come from our continuing development of the car, we can head into the final [NZRC] showdown at home in Masterton knowing we are in top form.”
 
The Masons are now back up to second place in the NZRC, just 5 points behind arch rival Hayden Paddon, so it will be ‘Winner Takes All’ in four weeks’ time for the Trusthouse Racetech Rally Wairarapa on Saturday October 5th.
 
“Now wouldn’t that be nice. To get to 24 [NZRC round wins] by winning our home round for the 8th time and taking a record 5th NZRC title, all in front of our supporters, friends and family……Bring It On…!!!!”

Photo: Geoff Ridder

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