Mason gets PWRC drive for Rally NZ
- 30th July 2007, 10:21am
New Zealand Champion driver Richard Mason has the chance to achieve what no other Kiwi driver has ever done before - win a round of the Production World Rally Championship.
The two-time New Zealand champion has negotiated a start in the PWRC in next month's round of the FIA World Rally Championship which will be based in Hamilton, heading to the King Country, Waikato and Franklin districts.
He finished runner-up in the PWRC - and 10th Overall - as a wildcard entry in Rally New Zealand last year and has the chance to go one better when the World Rally Championship heads downunder from August 30 to September 2.
Mason, who drives his BNT Subaru alongside his fiancée and co-driver Sara Randall, missed out on one of the two New Zealand guest entries for the PWRC for this year which went to up-and-comers Hayden Paddon (Geraldine) and Emma Gilmour (Dunedin).
"We were racing in China when we heard the news. From that point we have looked for any chance to get a start in the PWRC at Rally New Zealand," Mason said.
"We could have started with the other non-priority drivers at the back of the field, but frankly, having had a taste of this top level competition last year, that no longer means too much as we pursue the bigger picture.
"The PWRC includes some of the best rally drivers in the world. Our aim is to mount a campaign to run in the PWRC in the future. So another strong performance in it here this year would be a good stepping stone."
The Masterton pair will drive for the SYMS Rally Team from Japan, with the team based in Belgium. One of their two entrants, former Mitsubishi WRC Works Team driver Kristian Sohlberg, who currently lies third in the PWRC, was unable to fund his way to the New Zealand round.
"We heard about it and have managed to negotiate that spot in Rally New Zealand, so we will get his number and run as Car No 38.
"The advantages are significant. For starters there's better road position, especially on the second and third days when we all get reseeded on times.
"Most importantly all the cars in the PWRC come under the FIA microscope and that is seen as significant within the teams. Therefore any performance in this class against some of the world's best holds real credibility."
Mason said he will use his own bright yellow BNT Subaru while they will share technology with the SYMS Team, which will be an excellent learning experience for his Richard Mason Motorsport Team.
"We've just completed the deal, so now we can get on with getting ourselves organised.
"We got second in the PWRC last year and we'd like to go one better for sure this time. It will be great to fly the Kiwi flag at our own event against drivers from all over the world, this time as a fully-fledged entry in the WRC."
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