History Made at Rally Wairarapa
Press Release - 29 June 2014
It was to be a history making day as fine weather greeted the 69 crews competing in the Trusthouse Racetech Rally Wairarapa. Setting out from the Tui HQ in Mangatainoka, with 163km of challenging roads over 9 special stages ahead, it soon became apparent that one crew would dominate above all others.
Richard Mason in his BNT sponsored Subaru was fastest through the opening 34km stage by a staggering 49.6 seconds. And he never looked back, proceeding to win all 9 stages outright, and accumulate a massive 2 minute 44 second lead.
Second overall was Ben Hunt, despite complaining that he had to drive the first two stages like he was in a BDA Escort, after suffering centre diff failure in his Subaru WRX. Impressively that didn’t stop him recording second place on those first two stages, and once repaired he continued to be the best of the rest.
Richard and Sara Mason speed on to win Rally Wairarapa.
Photo Credit: Jody Seabright
|However it was that long opening stage that saw many of the potential challengers sidelined. Alex Kelsey only lasted 6km before an off road excursion damaged his suspension. Lance Williams was well and truly down (a big bank), and out, then Patrick Malley hit a bank and punctured. Meanwhile David Holder and Matt Summerfield both suffered their own problems as they continued to soldier on, but not at their usual pace.
Then as 59 cars headed into stage two, the number of runners was reduced immediately when Emma Gilmour rolled her Suzuki Swift Maxi on the second corner. Thankfully a service park at the Tararua township of Pongaroa allowed the remaining runners to regroup and things settled down as the next block of 3 stages saw the leader board consolidate to Mason, Hunt and Holder as the top three.
The biggest battle was then for 4th as Stewart Taylor, Neil Marshall, and Geof Argyle played musical chairs, swapping stage times and places. Unfortunately for Marshall, he damaged his suspension in stage 5, leaving Taylor and Argyle to chase after Holder for a podium place in the last group of 4 stages.
As Holder continued to suffer problems, incurring a 50 second penalty in the process of trying to solve them, Taylor closed in and in a last stage lunge managed to pip Holder for third, by only 1.9 seconds.
The fastest of the two wheel drive cars were also two of the older ones, as Marcus van Klink and Dean Buist went head to head in the Malcolm Stewart Classic Rally. The Mazda RX7 mounted van Klink squeezed out an early lead over Buist in his RS1800 Escort, and then proceeded to extend that over the next 4 stages. But van Klink started to waver as his car developed a mis-fire and lost power. Buist staged a comeback, but it wasn’t to be enough, van Klink taking the Classic and two wheel drive honours by 28 seconds over Buist.
Ron Davey in his Escort had been battling with Brad McFarlane in his Porsche 911 all day as they chased third in the classic rally. An initial lead by McFarlane had been driven down by Davey, and he exited the last stage with the podium under his belt. But cruel luck saw Davey fail to reach the finish line in Masterton when his distributor seized on the touring section, handing third back to McFarlane.
Despite the second placing here, Dean Buist did take home some of the big silverware. Winning the Classic Challenge Trophy, with the highest accumulated points from the International Classic Rally of Otago and the Malcolm Stewart Classic Rally.
In the end the record books were re-written on almost every page as Richard Mason won the Trusthouse Racetech Rally Wairarapa for the 8th time, won every stage of the rally, won by the biggest margin for a one day event, and achieved an unprecedented 5th national rally championship gold star title, having won every round so far this season.
Mason was quick to dedicate the win to his friend, mentor and sponsor, Greg Horne. “It was the dying wish of our long term supporter and sponsor Greg Horne who passed earlier this year, that we would take a fifth championship, and we’ve done it for him”. Richard continued on to pay credit to his co-driver (in life and in the car) Sara for the fantastic achievements this year.
Yet again, Rally Wairarapa has delivered drama and excitement, as another chapter is added to the 40 year history of this event.