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Four times New Zealand Rally Champions Richard and Sara Mason are fiercely determined to achieve a top result at this weekend’s International Rally of Whangarei - May 17 to 19 – and finally fill a niggling space in their trophy cabinet back home in Masterton.

Throughout their highly successful time in the New Zealand Rally Championship [NZRC] Richard has amassed a record-equalling 22 round wins – Wairarapa seven times, Hawkes Bay five, Otago four, Nelson two, Rotorua two and Rally New Zealand two – but a win at Whangarei has so far proved elusive.

Their best result ‘Up North’ came in 2011 when the Masterton Flyers finished third overall, driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X for the Soueast Motor Kumho Team from China.

“So the time has come for us to really take the fight to the internationals and our other local front runners,” said Richard, “and with Hayden [Paddon] back we are certainly not lacking for motivation. He is the benchmark.

“We have spent a heap of time since Otago working on our BNT Subaru to develop and get the best out of it, and we are confident that we have made significant gains in all areas.

“We can’t thank our BNT Mason Motorsport Team enough for the countless hours they have put in so enthusiastically and tirelessly to enable us to get all the changes done in time.

“But, as usual, all will be revealed once the stage times start coming through on Saturday morning…….And we have to keep in mind that we do still have a championship to win…..

“We are already in a strong position [2nd] in the NZRC after Otago [the opening round held last month] and as Whangarei is the only remaining Two-Day round, it is vital that we complete both days and grab a top spot in the Power Stage on Sunday. That way we will be in the best possible position for the four One Day rounds that make up the second half of the championship this year.

“That’s our NZRC goal for the season – to win a record 5th New Zealand Rally Championship – but with no WRC event here this year, Whangarei is our only opportunity to see how our reconfigured BNT Subaru matches up against some of the top rally drivers in the world….It’s going to be an awesome weekend…….”

 The International Rally of Whangarei runs from 17 to 19 May with pre-event promotional activities like the popular driver autograph signing session and the official start ceremony taking place in Whangarei’s Cameron Street Mall from 3:30 pm on Friday.

The rally action is on both Saturday and Sunday with stages south of Whangarei around Paparoa as well as the very popular spectator stage right in town at Pohe Island.

The official rally map is available from the event website, www.rallywhangarei.co.nz, or free from the rally headquarters at the Quayside Town Basin.

The event concludes with Sunday's official ceremonial finish from 3pm at the Quayside Town Basin.

Photo Credit – Geoff Ridder.

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