HAPPY DAYS AS BNT MASON MOTORSPORT HEADS TO RALLY OTAGO
By Chris Grant
24th May, 2012
This year's annual black tie function was held at the Sky City Convention Centre and brought together all facets of New Zealand Motorsport to recognise the various national championship winners from the last twelve months.
"It's a great to get the opportunity to formally recognise what you have achieved and to be acknowledged by your peers," said Richard, "and to get a chance to celebrate with the people who have helped realise your goals is awesome."
So the quick 24 hour trip to Auckland was immediately followed up by a day of packing as the BNT Mason Motorsport team had to be on the 8am Tuesday Interislander sailing to Picton as they wended their way south to Dunedin for round 3 of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship [NZRC], powered by Brother - the Drivesouth Rally Otago - which starts this Friday (May 25th).
But the long trip south has been made all the more enjoyable as the Masterton Flyers have learnt that their record breaking 7th win at last month's Trust House Racetech Rally Wairarapa has seen them create another piece of New Zealand rally history, as their 17th round win together now makes them the most successful rally crew in the 37 years of the NZRC.
"We are very proud of our achievements since we joined forces in 2005," said Richard, "and we hope there are a lot more to come, none more so than the goal this weekend of taking the lead in this year's championship, which we see as being very significant at what will be the halfway point in the series."
The Masons' record at Otago is almost unmatched, 3 consecutive round wins from 2006 to 2008 and ironically their 4th last year was the only time they have missed finishing on the podium since 2005.
In fact a 4th win would see them move clear of the other two 3-times winners Geof Argyle and Chris West, and equal with Southland's Barry Robinson who steered his Vauxhall Chevette to victories in 1982, 1983, 1984 and 1991.
"We've definitely got the BNT STI going fast, but whether it's fast enough remains to be seen," continued Richard, "because the Otago rally is quite different to other events in New Zealand.
“The undulations in the roads, the crests and you run along ridge-tops before dropping into gullies. Roads in other areas tend to follow the hillside rather than going up over the top of them – that makes Otago quite interesting. Plus the road surface can be quite a mixture; it could be really loose gravel or really hard – you don’t know until you get there,” says the three-time Kiwi champion.
“I like the tighter roads, like Waipori Gorge (SS17, 13 km), the final stage of the rally, that’s a really challenging one. And Kuri Bush (SS14, 15 km and the Power Stage for this round), that is just awesome. It's the closest thing to rallying in Finland - a real rollercoaster - it's grouse.”
The Drivesouth Rally Otago begins at 615pm with the Ceremonial Start in the Octagon followed immediately by 3 stages to be run on the Friday night.
Saturday sees the rally head north of Dunedin for eight stages, the majority inland from Palmerston. The day then concludes with the popular tarmac stage around the streets of Dunedin’s wharf area, by the Anzac Avenue overbridge and the new covered Stadium.
Sunday provides a further six stages, three of which are over 25km in length, the longest of which is the penultimate 44.15km stage through the Berwick Forest.
The rally finishes on Sunday afternoon at the historic Dunedin railway station, with the first car due shortly after 4:30pm.
Next.... Photo Album
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