News this week that the Battery Town Rally Bay of Plenty will replace the cancelled Dayle ITM Goldrush Rally Coromandel as the final round of the 2021 Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship (NZRC).
The Whakatane-based event, set to run on Sunday October 17, has never previously been a round of the NZRC, only hosting its inaugural event in 2020.
The 2020 Driven Auto Sales Rally Bay of Plenty, attracted a top class field with Tauranga’s Phil Campbell driving his Ford Fiesta AP4 as the number one seed with chief rivals including the Skoda Fabia R5 duo of Aucklanders Raana Horan and Kingsley Jones (seeded second and eighth respectively), along with AP4 specification cars driven by Auckland’s Dylan Turner (Audi A1) and Dunedin’s Emma Gilmour (Suzuki Swift), who started from the third and fourth seeding positions respectively.
But it was five-times New Zealand rally champion, Richard Mason, driving the same car he won his first New Zealand title with in 2005, that blitzed the field beating home Horan and Gilmour for the top step of the podium.
Seeded fifth and at the wheel of a Subaru Impreza, that is the best part of 20 years old, the Masterton driver, with his wife Sara calling the pace notes, made a steady start to the nine-stage Whakatane-based event, then moved his Subaru Impreza into the lead after five stages had been completed. He stayed in front by winning three of the remaining four stages and built a 15.7secs advantage over early leader Raana Horan and Michael Connor of Auckland driving a Skoda Fabia R5.
Will we see another return to rallying by Richard and Sara Mason for the 2021 event? Let’s hope so.
Overall Results 2020 Driven Auto Sales Rally Bay of Plenty
1/ Richard and Sara Mason (Masterton) Subaru Impreza WRX, 1h 16m 34.9s
2/ Raana Horan/Michael Connor (Auckland) Skoda Fabia R5, +15.7s
3/ Emma Gilmour (Dunedin)/Mal Peden (Cambridge) Suzuki Swift AP4, +58.0s
4/ Kingsley and Waverley Jones (Auckland) Skoda Fabia R5, +1m 02.9s
5/ Grant Blackberry/Ric Chalmers (Hawke’s Bay) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo10, +1m 25.6s
6/ Todd Bawden/Paul Burborough (Hamilton) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo6, +1m 40.9s.
See also: Mason’s return to the top at Rally Bay of Plenty