The Drivesouth International Otago Rally dealt a couple of cruel blows to Dunedin rally driver Emma Gilmour this weekend.
Although her home event started strongly both days, they each ended prematurely, leaving Emma with no option but to look forward to the second round of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship in Whangarei at the end of the month.
“There are positives there but it is just very frustrating as we have done the development work on the car. We know it handles great and we have got confidence in it, as we proved in the stages we were able to do,” Emma says.
She and co-driver Anthony McLoughlin were running near the front of the national field on Saturday before the rose joint on her gear selector broke in stage four, leaving the Vantage Windows and Doors Suzuki Swift Maxi stuck in second gear. Unable to repair it in time to make it to stage five, Emma retired then re-joined the rally for the day’s final tarmac special stage.
Today’s seven stages began promisingly with Emma storming to a win on the first stage and a second on the next stage. Then on stage 10 disaster struck.
“It was my mistake on Waipori Gorge. I just went wide and got caught out on the edge of the road and collided with a rock wall, which broke the steering rack and the sub frame. It was a big hit and we were really lucky not to have rolled over or had a bigger accident,” Emma says.
“Unfortunately, despite the team’s best efforts, we couldn’t fix it, which was disappointing as we went out today to try to salvage some points for day two and also do the power stage. It was a real shame to not come away with any points for the weekend after so much effort pre-season from all the team and sponsors.”
The positives that Emma will take away from the weekend is that the team knows the car is capable of winning rallies and she hopes for some better luck at the International Rally of Whangarei on April 29 and 30.
Emma would like to thank her sponsors Suzuki NZ, Vantage Windows & Doors, Gilmour Motors Suzuki, Koba Batteries, Rothbury Insurance Brokers, PPG Paint, Castrol, Dunlop, Hella, Vortex Racewear, Uniform NZ, Provident, Interislander, NGK Spark Plugs, Custom Signs, Modena Race Gears, Pure Sports Nutrition and Webdesign for supporting the team.