Preview: Rally of Otago, NZRC round 2
Former champion, and round one winner, Richard Mason, will start the
Rally of Otago eager to build on his points haul in this year’s New
Zealand Rally Championship.
Mason delivered the first blow in his battle with 2008 NZ Champion,
Hayden Paddon, in the Hawke’s Bay Rally, taking victory ahead of former
Dunedin girl Emma Gilmour, and the experienced Geof Argyle.
The fight for victory is set to be an intriguing one. On paper it appears to be a two-horse race between the leading two drivers, but others, such as Chris West, Dean Sumner, Andrew Hawkeswood and Sloan Cox will all be eager to throw their hats into the ring.
The top of the entry list is a good old Subaru vs Mitsubishi battle, and of particular interest is that Paddon and Gilmour will be competing in their second event in consecutive weekends.
Both contested the Asia-Pacific Championship round in Queensland last weekend; Gilmour for the reigning champions, MotorImage Rally Team, and Paddon for his own team as he aims to win the Pirelli Star Driver competition which offers a drive in the WRC for the winner.
They should both be in fine form coming into round two of the NZRC.
Patrick Malley heads a pack of five Ford Fiesta STs in the rally, while Matt Summerfield has entered in his brand new diesel-powered Skoda Fabia.
The New Zealand Rally Championship field – of which there are 23 cars – will run in front of the Classic Rally, ensuring spectators get every opportunity to witness some of the country’s leading drivers.
Will it be Mason or Paddon winning their “weight in Speights” on Sunday night, or will someone else take that top step on the podium?
It promises to be an intriguing battle