Emma Gilmour
Emma Gilmour - Daybreaker 2013

Meet the Driver – Emma Gilmour

Emma Gilmour

Emma Gilmour - Photo credit Geoff Ridder
Emma Gilmour – Photo credit Geoff Ridder

At what age were you when you first got involved in motorsport?
I was 19 when I started co-driving for my cousin Gwynn and sister Monica. I entered my first rally as a driver when I was 22.

Who was your biggest influence in rallying when growing up?
Hmmm….I don’t really think about it as ‘growing up’, but Glenn Macneall would be the biggest influence on my driving career as he taught me a lot about rallying, including everything from sponsorship, to pacenotes, to driving.

What was your very first rally car?
A Mitsubishi Evo 3 that I purchased from my cousin. It was a great car to learn in.

What has been the most fun rally car you have owned?
My current car – the Suzuki Swift 1600 Maxi. Last season was a bit tough as we raced against time to get her finished, but now that we have had some more development time it is so much fun to drive. I love the fact it has enough power to spin the wheels on tarmac – you can’t help but smile when driving it! 🙂

What is the ultimate special stage / rally for you?
Ooooh – tough question….I loved competing in Finland on the famous Ouninpohja stage. But in NZ it would probably have to be competing in Rally NZ when it was a round of the WRC. It’s so special to be taking part in an event with World Champions and being able to match yourself against the world’s best.

What is your rally highlight to date?
I think I have too many to choose from….I feel very lucky that I have been able to rally consistently at the top level of the sport for over a decade. I have been lucky to compete all round the world in an amazing variety of cars, and met and worked with a lot of great people. I feel very lucky. If I had to choose, it would probably be finishing 2nd in NZ for 3 years in a row – although it’s also one of my major frustrations in the sport, in that I haven’t taken the number 1 spot. Yet!! 🙂

What’s been your scariest moment in motorsport so far?
To be honest it was my high speed spin at Wairarapa last year. The car let go under braking at 140km/h, and we went snapped sideways to the road instantly. I was convinced that it was going to tip in and we were in for a very high speed roll, but thankfully it didn’t! It gave me a huge scare as it was totally unexpected.

What vehicle format would you recommend for young drivers entering motorsport. Front wheel drive, rear wheel drive or 4 wheel drive and why? And what advice could you give an up-and-coming driver?
Pick a vehicle you can afford to run and do as many events as possible. It is better to have a cheap, easy to maintain vehicle that you can do every event in, than over commit to an expensive car you don’t have the budget to do events in. There is no short cut for experience and all miles is still good miles.

In your opinion who was the best rally driver of all time and why?
Another tough question…. Sebastian Loeb with his consistency and brilliance. But I still think the likes of Colin McRae, Marcus Gronholm, and Possum Bourne expressed their love of the sport a lot better, and I enjoyed their personalities.

Other than rally what other things / work are you involved in?
My Suzuki dealership in Dunedin keeps me very busy. I have also been the NZ representative on the FIA Women in Motorsport commission for the last couple of years. I also do driver training for Downforce Sport Driver Training which I really enjoy.

What do you like to do to relax when not rallying?
I really enjoy trail bike riding, but don’t do as much riding as I would like as I am always nervous of injuring myself! I go to the gym most mornings, and I enjoy catching up with friends and family.

Do you have any other talents that would surprise people (are you a budding artist / musician etc)?
I’m a good baker, and I’m a very good shopper! 🙂

What’s your goal for 2014?
We’re looking forward to having a consistent season this year, and standing on the podium for the first time with our Suzuki Swift 1600 Maxi. 🙂

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