Emma Gilmour is excited but a little nervous about becoming the first woman to ever drive in a Global Rallycross Championship (GRC) event when she competes in the opening round in Barbados this weekend.
The bonus is that she has the extremely professional, supportive Rhys Millen Racing (RMR) team backing her as she embarks on this thrilling new stage of her career.
“I’ve been relaxed all day and as I was falling asleep, I started thinking, I’m driving tomorrow and all of a sudden it’s a bit daunting,” she says.
She will have her first drive of the fully race-prepared RMR Hyundai Veloster Turbo rallycross car built especially for her at tomorrow’s practise session at Barbados’ newly renovated Bushy Park Circuit. Specifically decaled with pink stripes and tyre rims, it might look like a girl’s car but it was engineered to be as tough as any of the GRC boys’ machines.
Its highly-tuned engine generates about 600hp and like all GRC cars, although it rolled out of the factory as a production model, it received significant improvements to its chassis, engine, and safety features to bring it up to racing spec.
Although she has only walked the track at this stage, Emma liked what she saw.
“The track is wide, not too narrow and is a nice circuit for me to start on. It looks really cool, quite fast and open, not a huge amount of gravel. The jump looks like fun.”
She expected to reach speeds of up to 180kmh on the predominantly tarmac course, which features two gravel corners and a jump.
To get into the GRC swing of things she did a small amount of testing in RMR’s lites team driver Tyler Benson’s car in Los Angeles earlier this week.
“It was great just to get back into a left-hand drive car and do some tarmac driving,” she said.
She then headed to Barbados where she met up with her RMR team.Gilmour and team owner Rhys Millen will race identical cars in the Supercar category of the GRC’s first round of 10, which takes place in conjunction with Top Gear Festival Barbados.
The GRC race format starts with a one-hour qualifying tomorrow, where the field is broken up into small groups that take to the track in 10-minute sessions. Seeding for heat races is determined by a driver’s qualifying speed.
Depending on field size and track schedule, race day on Sunday begins with one or two rounds of four heat races, usually consisting of four cars and six laps each. The top two finishers transfer into the main event on Monday (NZ time).
All drivers who do not make it into the main event via heat races will compete in the last chance qualifier for the final remaining qualifying spots. Ten cars then compete in the main event, which begins with a standing start.
Each course is equipped with two routes – the main route, and the joker lap route, which each driver must take once per race.
Emma is just looking forward to finding out this weekend, what she has in store for the United States-based GRC season’s next nine rounds.
“I don’t know what to expect as I’ve never done it before but the team have been really great and supportive.”
Fans can catch the action at GRC TV – the Global Rallycross YouTube channel; Global-rallycross.com – official website of GRC and through the GRC’s social media outlets Facebook and Twitter.
EMMA GILMOUR’S 2014 GLOBAL RALLYCROSS CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE
· May 17-18: Barbados, Top Gear Festival.
· June 7: Austin, X-Games.
· June 21-22: Washington.
· July 19-20: New York.
· July 25-26: Charlotte.
· August 2-3: Detroit.
· August 22-23: Daytona.
· September 19-20: San Pedro.
· September 26-27: Seattle.
· November 5: Las Vegas.