Dunlop rally aces charge into Manawatu tomorrow for the Daybreaker Rally – the third round of the NZRC and first edition of the one-day events.
Last included in the calendar in 2001, the rally sees a field of 23 competitors start at Manfeild race circuit, then surge through nine special stages in quick succession.
Absent from the field is series leader Hayden Paddon, who delivered a masterclass of rallying on Dunlop tyres in the first two rounds and is now pursuing his WRC dream in Europe.
Leading Dunlop’s assault this time, and eager to chalk up his maiden victory for the season, is four-time NZRC champion Richard Mason, who decides the running order for the top-five cars, having set fastest time at the preceding round.
“I’m really looking forward to the weekend. It’s a fresh event for the championship - there are new roads and it’s in the middle of winter, so conditions will be different,” said Mason, who’s driving his championship-winning Subaru WRX.
“It’s a disappointment Paddon won’t be there, as I felt the battle was getting closer between us, but I’m sure we’ll see him later in the season.”
Dunlop motorsport manager Richard Fraser echoed Mason’s thoughts, saying tyre selection and recce is crucial, as most drivers will be new the roads.
“As with many roads in the North Island, there’s plenty of twists, turns and surprises, so it’s going to be a fantastic challenge for drivers,” said Richard.
“Young Alex Kelsey and Ben Hunt will also be drivers to watch.”
2013 Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship
1. Hayden Paddon, Geraldine, 88
2. Richard Mason, Masterton, 62
3. Ben Hunt, Nelson, 39
4. Chris West, Timaru, 24
5. Matt van Tuinen, QLD, Australia, 23