Photo credit: Jason Byrne

Meet the Team – Richard and Sara Mason

Photo credit : Geoff Ridder
Photo credit : Geoff Ridder

Firstly, congratulations on winning a fifth NZRC title.  How does it feel several months on:
Richard: It is still a great feeling. It is never easy to win a championship and we have been aiming for  5 titles for awhile so it has been nice to be able to follow through on your dreams.
Sara: It feels really good. Our motivation for our 2014 campaign was to fulfill the dying wish of our long term sponsor and friend Greg Horne from BNT. He said he had to beat his cancer because we had a championship to win. For me I thought about Greg on every start line of every stage. I was always thinking about how I wanted to win for him as he gave me a mission he wanted us to complete. It was quite sad sitting on the final start line as I’ve been so focused the whole year on it and now the journey was over.  It was for sure my most important and memorable Championship victory to date.

With so many records behind you both, what motivates you to keep going?
Richard: I really enjoy driving the rally car; there is nothing else quite like it. The feeling of being in a stage, pushing the car to its limits with nothing else in the world mattering at that point in time is amazing.
Sara: I love the thrill I get from rallying. Although I love winning, I love competition even more – I’d rather lose a rally by a few seconds than win it by minutes.

What is it you love about rallying?
Richard: Where I think rallying differs from other forms of Motorsport is that you have to be self motivated to win. There is no other competitor just in front of you or just in front of you during a stage, there is only you and your co-driver. You have to be very good at judging risk and reward.
Sara: For me it’s the competition – its being amongst it and having to push yourself to get better and try harder. Overcoming barriers and being put under pressure makes for a very rewarding feeling.

On the flipside, what do you not like or enjoy about rallying?
Richard: It is expensive! Something we are struggling with at the moment with no major sponsor for 2015.
Sara: The cost!

With Sara having previously been a driver, will we ever see a switch in places in the car?
Richard: I have offered Sara to take the wheel many times; the ball is in her court. I don’t know if I’m the right man for the job to co-drive her though!
Sara: I’d be quite keen to do some club rallies driving – not in anything too fancy just something that is a lot of fun. We’ve talked about building up a monster starlet or something that would be fast, different and fun. Rich has attempted co-driving for me in the past but it didn’t work so well – he was sick and also couldn’t just focus on his job (was too busy worrying about what I was doing). I’d need to find a good co-driver as my expectations are probably fairly high 🙂

Having a young family, how on earth do you juggle rallying with family life?
Richard: We do a lot as a family – skiing, water sports, mountain biking, running, boating etc so we have a lot of family time as well as motorsport time.
Sara: With excellent family support! We are very lucky in that both our parents are very supportive of us and really take ownership of the children at each event; neither of us has to worry if they’re OK.  Khalid has been to every rally we have done since he was 2 weeks old so he’s growing up in the sport which is really cool.

What advice can you give to anyone entering the sport, either as a driver or co-driver?
Richard: Don’t run before you can walk – make sure you stay within your budget and don’t push too hard too soon. You risk being disappointed, with an expensive crashed car and an empty bank balance.
Sara: It’s very addictive so best you find yourself a partner who likes it (or at least tolerates it!).

2015 NZRC is shaping up to be a really exciting year of rallying.  Which event are you most looking forward to and why?
Richard: Whangarei at the moment as we currently don’t have a budget to do any more events. However it looks like Motu stages could be on the cards again this year, I would love to have a crack at them with our current car!
Sara: Racing against Ken Block at Rally Whangarei will be a highlight. I’ve never had much time for that rally but Ken is a fantastic competitor – a great guy who is very fast and in a fast car to match. To me that means a real challenge which means fun! We are working hard to try and find a major sponsor/group of smaller sponsors so we can do more than just Whangarei.

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Thanks heaps to both Richard and Sara for finding the time to speak to me, especially given how hard they must be working to find a sponsor for 2015.  Click on the link below if you can help them in anyway.

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