BNT MASON MOTORSPORT GOING FOR TRIFECTA AT RALLY NEW ZEALAND
By Chris Grant
21st June, 2012Triple New Zealand Rally Champions, Richard and Sara Mason, who currently lead the 2012 Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship, powered by Brother [NZRC], have three key goals at this week’s WRC Brother Rally New Zealand - an event which is the 500th round of the WRC since it was launched in it's current form in 1973.
The Masterton Flyers head the NZRC field set to contest the same three-day event as drivers competing in the FIA World Rally Championship and fellow New Zealander Hayden Paddon, who is competing in the second tier FIA Super 2000 World Rally Championship.
Brother Rally New Zealand, round four of the NZRC, takes in a revamped route for it's 42nd edition, with Friday’s action - over 200 kilometres of high-speed special stages around Raglan and Te Akau - being the most competition distance in a single day of any WRC round in more than 5 years.
Saturday’s action heads north as far as Whangarei through Kaipara and Sunday’s route is on stages that are predominantly new for current NZRC drivers.
The Masons and other top NZRC crews are in the same specification Group N four-wheel-drive cars as competitors in the FIA Production World Rally Championship, which gives them an important goal for this rally.
“We have three goals for Brother Rally New Zealand,” says the three-time New Zealand champion.
“Firstly, we obviously want to extend the lead we have in the championship after winning the last two rounds - at home in the Wairarapa and then down south at Otago - so three in a row would go a long way to setting us up for the final push to our [record equaling] fourth title, as well as drawing level with Neil Allport on his current record of 22 NZRC round wins.
“Secondly, we want to win our class which means beating all the PWRC competitors, so that’s achievable. We were within sight of doing just that on the final morning back in 2008 until [the infamous] Whaanga Coast 'bit us big time' with a mechanical failure, so that one is still on our 'Bucket List'.
“And finally, we’d like to again earn the honour of being the first New Zealanders home. We’ve been first Kiwi twice before [2006 & 2007], but know it’s a tall order this time with Hayden in much more sophisticated machinery. Still, who knows what will happen, especially after we showed such good pace against some of the same top SWRC-spec cars earlier in the season at [Rally] Whangarei."
Richard says his BNT-backed STI is running well. “The handling’s the best we’ve ever had it and I’m really, really enjoying the car this season. I don't think we have had a car that is so easy to drive since the days of our blue 'Bug-Eye' back in 2005/2006. We’ve worked really hard to get it to this point, and now we are reaping the benefits of all that research, testing and perseverance.
"So you never know, we may even be able to 'rattle the cage' of a few of those Super 2000 [SWRC] guys too, which could well put us on track to repeat the Top Ten Finish overall we achieved when we held off Valentino Rossi in his World Rally Car in 2006. Now THAT was something VERY special..."
Having just completed reconnaissance, Richard says the roads are fairly damp. Showers are forecast for Thursday for the Waikato region through which Friday’s route runs to that famous Whaanga Coast stage south of Raglan.
This could mean the Masons and their fellow NZRC competitors are disadvantaged by roads being churned up by the WRC, SWRC and PWRC competitors all of whom they must start behind on the opening day.
However, as long as they can perform as they are planning and expect to, Saturday - up north to Whangarei - and Sunday - which stays within 50k just north of Auckland - could well see 'BNT' running at a much more advantageous 15 on the road, which could be just about the perfect position under the forecast conditions.
“The route itself looks great, the usual mix of excellent rallying roads. Sunday’s route around Puhoi is all new for us and that makes a good change.
"We thrive on going head to head with the best from around the world. It just seems to bring out the best in us and once we get through the new-style Start Ceremony with the 'Green Light' drive down Queen Street [at 430pm on Thursday] and then the interviews in the Viaduct Events Centre from 6:30pm, it certainly will be 'All On' come Friday morning....We can't wait to get amongst it....."
BNT Mason Motorsport are very proud to again 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 eleventh consecutive year as a leading contender in the NZRC - and now as TRIPLE CHAMPIONS.
Next.... Photo Album
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