SMILES ALL ROUND FOR BNT MASON MOTORSPORT AFTER RALLY WHANGAREI
By Chris Grant
21st July, 2011
For double New Zealand Rally Champion, Richard Mason, and Champion Co-driver wife Sara, the roads of Northland have been tough territory to master, but this year any perceived 'bogie' has been well and truly laid to rest, as they put in one of their most consistent performances - and in a car they had never even sat in until 2 days before the rally started...
The international statistics speak for themselves - 3rd overall, 2nd APRC, 1st APRC Group N, 2nd in the APRC Teams Trophy, and their Chinese SouEast Motor Team are now up to 2nd in the prestigious APRC Teams Trophy.
And in the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship [NZRC], the Masterton Flyers finished 2nd for the round and, most importantly, conceded the minimum points possible at Whangarei, and therefore maintain their lead in the race for the GoldStar (now at a significant 26 points) with only one round to go.
"No matter how you look at it, Northland has not been kind to us over the years," said Richard, "so this time we were totally focused on our own goals and not worrying about how our opposition were going.
"And our absolute priority was to do the best we could for Fan Fan and his Soueast Motor Team in the APRC Teams Trophy - a title that we know from our time in the Chinese National Championship, means so much to them.
"Therefore our initial objective was to get to know the car as quickly as possible and avoid any risk-taking trying to keep up with our rivals. So we were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves 'on the pace' relatively early into the first day.
"We said before the rally that being in a new car would mean we would take a little while to settle in to it's characteristics," said Richard. "And that proved both correct and the best approach as, during the morning, we found we generally got better during the second half of those stages.
"And the afternoon loop [of stages] was good. On both Brooks (13kms) and Bull (40kms) we took time out of our morning runs, which not many people did, so we were very happy with that.
"Cassidy (24kms) was really slippery, and it certainly wasn't the time to be brave in a new car, so we were reasonably cautious through there. In hindsight, probably a bit over cautious," he said.
Their absolute consistency was there for all to see on Sunday's eight stages, as the Mason's Mitsubishi recorded 6 x 3rd's and 2 x 4th's, was 3rd fastest for the day, and gave away only one-third of a second per kilometre over the 143k to the rally winner, Chris Atkinson. They also thoroughly enjoyed the second afternoon of the rally in a great battle 'hunting down' and ultimately beating [ex-WRC works team driver] Alister McRae.
"It's awesome to have brought the car home without a scratch and achieve Fan Fan's objective for the Soueast Motor Team - to score a good haul of points in the new APRC Teams Trophy, which is their primary goal this year.
"It's also great that we've done exactly what was required to maintain a good lead in the NZRC and improve our position on the rest of the [NZRC] field.
"At the same time we are rapt to complete our trifecta of podiums in New Zealand APRC rounds [2nd at Rotorua in 2005 and winning there in 2006] and once again being the top Group N car in that category," concluded Richard.
"We would like to thank Fan Fan and his Soueast Motor Team for inviting us to drive for them. It was an honour to drive for a team as professional as theirs. The car ran faultlessly, with not one mechanical issue all weekend," said a delighted Sara.
"Also a big thanks to Brian Green for believing in us and recommending us to Fan Fan. Your on-event support of both us and the team was also much appreciated.
"Thank you to Greg Horne from BNT for encouraging us to take the opportunity and supporting us in the venture. Also thanks to our other associate sponsors, who were very understanding and supportive."
The next rally on the calendar for BNT Mason Motorsport is the final NZRC round in the Hawkes Bay - currently scheduled for August 20 - 21.
BNT Mason Motorsport are very proud to have the support of BNT, Hopper Construction, Dunlop, B.W.O’Brien, The PC Factory, ScottSpeed Performance Engines, Geartech, MCA Suspension, Pagid, Randall & Associates, Quality Foods and Tom’s Auto Services, without whose invaluable assistance they would not have been able to embark on their tenth consecutive year as a leading contender in the NZRC.
The NZRC coverage of the International Rally of Whangarei will be broadcast on TVNZ 1-:
TVNZ One – this Sunday 24 July 1600 to 1700hrs – Leg 1
TVNZ One – Sunday 31 July 1600 to 1700hrs – Leg 2
Plus Skysport Wednesday 27 July at 2030hrs and Wednesday 3 August at 2030hrs
Next.... Photo Album
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