BNT Mason Motorsport's Richard Mason has indeed 'Done it for Stace' by safely steering the late Stace Hopper's white Subaru Impreza WRX [#969] through atrocious weather conditions to take victory in the DUNLOP Targa Rotorua, which finished yesterday.

Stace Hopper, 27, died when the light plane he was flying, crashed in a paddock near Marsden Point in Northland on the afternoon of March 12th. He was a popular young man with a big zest for life which was borne out by his achievements in such things as Targa rallies, jet ski stunts and performance car driving demonstrations at public motorsport events. His highly modified Subaru WRX was well known in those circles and he was carving quite a reputation.

"Our motivating force for the weekend was 'Doing it for Stace', said Richard, "and now we can update that to 'We've Done it for Stace', with absolute emphasis on the 'WE', because it was a total team effort that turned our goal into a reality."

"Simon [Kirkpatrick - Stace's regular co-driver] did a brilliant job inside the car, and all Stace's boys [his Sevice Crew] did him proud by working through the night to keep '969' in the rally, after a radiator hose split during stage 4 and caused the engine to overheat."

'Working through the night' was exactly that, as first a replacement engine was brought down from Auckland and by 1am it was installed and ready for a test run, which meant driving over 100 kilometres to Tirau and back, but this revealed a major exhaust leak. So early on Sunday morning a road car 'donated' it's manifold and Richard and Simon were the last crew to start the day's first stage - with just 15 minutes to spare.

Four consecutive stage wins and a second quickest on the fifth meant '969's overnight lead had been pushed out by another minute to 2 minutes 45 seconds, but then the new engine dropped onto three cylinders with four stages - totaling 70 kilometres - still to run.

Somehow it all hung together, even running on two cylinders during the last stage at Paradise Valley on the outskirts of Rotorua.

Richard and Simon 'nursed' the car to two fifths and two fourths on those final tests, to return to the Rally Finish at the Novotel Hotel on the Rotorua Lakefront winners by 1 minute 44 seconds - still averaging over 128 kph for the total distance of almost 320 kilometres.

"What an absolutely crazy result', said the 'Masterton Flyer'. "I can't speak highly enough of the effort everyone involved went to and am so proud to have been able to play my part in celebrating and remembering Stace - and in the best possible way!"

 

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