The Masterton pairing of Richard and Sara Mason have taken victory in the final round of the 2014 Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship driven by VINZ, the GoPro Daybreaker Rally.
With seven out of eleven stage victories over the 196 kilometres of fast flowing gravel competition in the Manawatu and Taihape districts, the Mason pairing and their BNT Subaru finished the event with a winning margin of 42.9 seconds over Nelson driver Ben Hunt and co-driver Tony Rawstorn. Tauranga’s David Holder with experienced World Rally Champion co-driver John Kennard completed the podium finishers for the event. Mason, Hunt and Holder also completing the season as the overall championship podium.
The Manawatu based event, which started and finished in Palmerston North was challenging finale to the National Rally Championship, with a 3.50am start and two early morning stages before daybreak providing a real challenge for teams.
The Masons seized the initial vantage with a dominant first stage victory. There run to victory wasn’t all plain sailing though with Richard admitting to a rookie error in not securing the bonnet pins correctly on a touring stage. A broken windscreen from the loose bonnet proving to be the only issue for the Masons as they proceeded to win the first seven stages of the event and build a comfortable lead.
The win completed a dominate season for the pair with five wins from the six championship rounds, a record fifth National Championship for Richard, and the Daybreaker win also making Sara the most successful co-driver in National Rallying history with 25 round victories.
Ben Hunt was the closest challenger all day, winning three stages to secure second for both the rally and the championship. David Holder who had been second coming into the final round, had to settle for third, but also claimed the National Junior Rally Title for drivers under 25, after an impressive first season in the 4WD category. The top six places were rounded out by Canterbury Subaru driver Matt Summerfield, Tauranga Mitsubishi driver Phil Campbell, and Palmerston Norths Tony McConarchy in his Evo Lancer. Te Aroha’s Lance Williams claimed the 2014 Rookie title in his Subaru Impreza after an impressive first season in the championship.
The 2WD category was dominated by the class champion for 2014, Hawkesbays Max Bayley having another strong run in his Ford Fiesta, Cambridge driver Brent Taylor had an impressive run in his Toyota 86 to win Open 2WD ahead of Canterbury driver Hamish Anderson, who by finishing second in the class did enough to secure back to back Open 2WD titles. Hawkesbay driver Ron Davey piloted his Ford Escort to victory in the BNT Historics ahead of Hamilton’s Gary Smith.