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Following their unexpected retirement due to suspension damage at the previous round, five times New Zealand Rally Champions Richard and Sara Mason are determined to finish their record-breaking season in this year’s Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship – driven by VINZ [NZRC], on a high at this weekend’s GoPro Daybreaker Rally in the Manawatu.

An amazing run of 16 consecutive stage wins across three rallies came to a shuddering stop on the Coromandel Peninsula when, midway through a right hand corner, the front wheels of the bright yellow BNT Subaru flipped up a piece of metal that then jammed in the left rear suspension and cut through it like a hot knife through butter.

“We were very disappointed to be forced to stop, but I guess that piece of steel had our name on it, ” said Richard. “Sometimes you get away with it and sometimes you don’t.

“We were driving well within ourselves and at a pace that had us comfortably in front, so there’s no reason why we can’t replicate that form this weekend at the Daybreaker.”

In fact the Masterton Flyers’ form has been so dominant this year that they have won an astonishing 86% of the stages they have started, 44 of the 51, and have placed second on four of the other seven.

And the Masons are seriously motivated for this weekend as they have unfinished business with this rally, after suffering the agonies of a mechanical problem just four kilometres from the end of the final stage last year when victory was virtually in sight - having won all 8 of the preceding stages.

“Last year was a real gut wrencher,” said Richard, “so we are determined to make up for that this tim, especially as after Coromandel Sara is still tied with Bob Haldane for the most NZRC round wins by a co-driver.”

This year’s edition of the Daybreaker returns to a format similar to the Daybreakers of old that started at midnight and ran on well into the next day. This time a 4am start will see the cars travel up to the Taihape region for two pre-dawn stages before working their way back to the late afternoon finish in The Square in Palmerston North.

The roads around Taihape have not been rallied on for over a decade, but Richard is one of only a very few of the current crop of NZRC drivers who have competed on them.

“I have very fond memories of the old Taihape rallies,” he said, “as that is where I got my first outright rally win, in the [Mitsubishi Lancer] Evo3 I had back in those days.

“They are awesome stages and will be a real challenge, especially those early ones in the dark and just after dawn.”

A field of 42 entries are expected to line-up at the start of the GoPro Daybreaker Rally at the early hour of 3.50am on Saturday morning from Palmfeild Motors in Palmerston North with the first special stage starting at 5.05am.

A total of 196 kilometres of competition in 11 high-speed special stages is due to be covered before the victory celebrations will be held from 4.25pm at The Square in Palmerston North.

The GoPro Daybreaker Rally provides great spectator viewing with a number of vantage points. A rally map is available free to download from the event website www.daybreaker.co.nz.

Photo Credit – Kate and Geoff Ridder.


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