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While Emma Gilmour/> worked successfully to get her national championship rally campaign back on track after her recent crash, Richard Mason powered back into the New Zealand Rally Championship lead with a commanding drive on the Wairarapa Rally.

Mason had the home advantage for the Wairarapa round, and it showed: he was the fastest national championship driver through 11 of the rally’s 14 stages, and won both Heats by a handy margin to take his fourth win on the event in as many years.

Whangarei Rally winner, Hayden Paddon (Mitsubishi Lancer), showed once again he is a fast learner: the 20 year old had been expected to struggle as he played a road-sweeping role as the first competitor through each stage. That role certainly blunted Paddon’s pace (like that of second-seed Mason’s) early in the event, but he came back strongly to finish fifth on Heat one, third on Heat two, and third overall for the two-day event.

Paddon now drops to second in the national series behind Mason, which means he will not have to run first through the stages on the next championship round in the Hawkes’ Bay.

“It was a good experience sliding the car round on the loose gravel, but I’ll welcome not having to run at the front on the next rally,” Paddon said. “The first day was hard work, but we made changes to the tyres and suspension on Saturday night which improved my confidence on Sunday.”

Second place honours fell to Rotorua’s Dean Sumner (Mitsubishi), while Sam Murray (Subaru Impreza) completed the weekend in fourth place. Helped by favourable start positions, Nathan Thomas drove well to finish runner-up on Heat one before retiring from Heat two.

Gilmour’s debut run in her brand new car also coasted to an end mid-way through Sunday’s second leg with a suspected gear selector fault. She was placed seventh overall in the national championship field at the time, having steadily picked up her pace after a conservative drive to eighth in Heat one.

“As someone who has been used to fighting for the lead and special stage wins earlier in the year I found it hard not to be just a little frustrated with my pace on the Saturday,” Gilmour said. “But simply to have made it to the start of this event after the big crash has been quite an achievement for me and for the team.”

Gilmour drove the new car for the first time on the way to the ceremonial start on Friday night, and spent Saturday fine-tuning it handling.

“The guys had done a fabulous job with it, so on Saturday the focus was very much on working away on all of those little things that make your car seem like home. I certainly felt more confident in myself and in the car on Sunday morning, and it showed in the times,” she said. “I am sure we would have been able to lift our pace a further step in the afternoon, but unfortunately that wasn’t to be.”

The championship now takes a two month break before resuming in the Hawkes’ Bay at the start of August.

New Zealand Rally Championship (NZRC) round 3, Wairarapa Rally, 2-3 June

Heat one:

1. Richard Mason (Subaru Impreza WRX STI)

2. Nathan Thomas (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo)

3. Dean Sumner (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo)

4. Sam Murray (Subaru Impreza WRX)

5. Hayden Paddon (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo)

Heat two:

1. Mason, 2. Sumner, 3. Paddon, 4.Murray, 5. Dylan Turner (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo), 5.

National Championship Points (provisional, after two rounds)

 

1. Mason, 146pts, 2. Paddon, 144pts; 3. Murray/>/>, 126pts, 4. Sumner, 104pts

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