New Zealand rally driver Emma Gilmour with Scottish co-driver Claire Mole alongside, experienced everything the wet Welsh roads had to throw at them to achieve a top 10 result in the Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally.
The all-female duo, reunited in a rally car after an eight-year hiatus, finished eighth overall in the challenging Wales-based event in a Ford Fiesta R5 MkII at the weekend. The Cambrian Rally comprised the final round of three local championships and the British Rally Championship.
Gilmour and Mole’s campaign couldn’t have got off to a worse start, as their rental car broke down before the recce of the seven-stage, 70-competitive-kilometre rally. It was the first time in the pair’s combined 50 years of competing that this misfortune had occurred, and it meant that “the first time we saw the stages was when we were racing on them,” Gilmour says.
“It wasn’t ideal. The two-pass recce is crucial for getting a feel for the stages. Not being able to drive through them certainly put us on the back foot. However, we didn’t dwell on it. We created pace notes off a video, which I’ve never done before, and we went out and gave it our best shot,” Gilmour adds.
Heavy rain prior to the northern Wales event meant the predominantly forestry-based stages were extremely technical and were damaged quickly. Gilmour described them as “slippery, slimy and greasy, with lots of standing water and puddles.”
“The roads were very challenging and as our notes weren’t 100%, it was difficult for Claire. As I got more comfortable in the car later in the day, the road conditions were worsening, and I had a pretty decent spin. At that point I thought, I should just get the R5 home safely,” Gilmour says.
“Despite the inauspicious start, I really enjoyed competing with Claire again and loved driving the impressive R5. Martin Wilkinson and CA1 Sport did a great job running it for us. All in all, it was an incredible experience and I’m so glad I did it.”
“I am very grateful to the Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally for having us, the team at CA1 Sport for running us and Vantage Windows and Doors for supporting us. Thanks to Claire for all her help. I’m hoping we did a good enough job and showed what an all-women team can achieve. I’d love to do some more rallying again soon in this stunning part of the world,” Gilmour says.