However he lies third overall after taking into account the ability for all drivers to drop their worst round. Unfortunately for Hunt he loses the most, as his worst round so far was an 18 point haul. This is in comparison to Paddon having missed two rounds and Mason having failed to finish one round, meaning they lose no points.
The upshot is that Paddon leads by 5 points from Mason, and with 5 bonus points on offer for winning the power stage, all three places are within the margin of error. And that error could be as small as a puncture.
This season has shown that there are a number of drivers able to capitalise on any false step. Chris West won the Canterbury rally, while Sloan Cox showed a return to speed at the Possum Bourne Memorial event. Meanwhile Emma Gilmour has had a frustrating season as she develops her Suzuki Swift, but if those issues are resolved it could be a potent package.
Then there is the wild card entry of Andrew Hawkeswood as he debuts his Mazda 2. Yes you read that right, a fully built up Mazda 2, but with a 2.3-litre Mazdaspeed/MPS engine from a Mazda 3, and 4WD to boot. Rally Wairararapa will be the first time anyone has seen this beast in competition.
However the focus of the competition will be on the duel between Paddon and Mason. As it developed during the championship, these two have been closely matched for speed and commitment, where Paddon held a slight advantage on roads closer to his home down south. Now the tables are turned and the final is on Mason’s home turf.
What ever happens, The Trusthouse Racetech Rally Wairarapa will be an all out 134km sprint, making for some of the most exciting and spectacular sideways action of the year.