Emma Gilmour has started 2009 where she left off last year, with a strong third place finish in the opening round of the national rally championship at Hawke's Bay over the weekend
On Saturday she kept increasing the pace in the Vantage Aluminium Subaru as the day progressed, culminating in victory on the day’s final stage when she closed to within 13 seconds of defending champion Hayden Paddon in second place.
Then on Sunday she withstood a late charge from former champion Chris West to again clinch third place.
“We had some niggles along the way, but it’s a great start to the season,” said Gilmour. “Now I’m really looking forward to my home event at Dunedin.”
While she now lives in Hamilton, Gilmour still considers the Otago Rally “home.”
On the first two stages on Saturday a sticking throttle hindered progress slightly. “That meant we were wearing out the brakes and I had a little visit with a fence which cost about 20 seconds.”
“The team sorted things out at service and we just kept upping the pace and getting faster.” That culminated in a stage victory on the Old Mohaka Coach Rd north of Napier on Saturday afternoon.
With confidence from a good first day in this year’s championship Gilmour attacked the opening stage on Sunday morning with perhaps a little too much enthusiasm.
“I went into the ford a bit too quickly and the turbocharger swallowed a bit of water,” she said.
“From then on we were down on power and I just had to drive around it.”
“The car was handling great, which helped because we couldn’t keep quite the same pace as Saturday.”
But with other drivers having their own problems, Gilmour managed to cling onto third place for the day and the weekend, despite West’s late attack on her position.
“I really have to thank the team because all of the hard work we did in the off season is what made this result possible. Even though we had a few small issues along the way we managed the situation well to record an excellent start to the season.” Hawke's Bay Rally Results
1, R & S Mason (Subaru Impreza WRX STI) 1h 52m 20.5s;
2, H Paddon, J Kennard (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9) 22.214.171.124;
3, E Gilmour, G Macneall (Subaru Impreza WRX STI) 126.96.36.199;
4, G Argyle, P Deakin (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo7) 188.8.131.52;
5, G Smith, C Ward (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo6) 184.108.40.206;
6, D Sumner, P Fallon (Mitsubishi Evo9) 1.56.06.9.
1, R & S Mason, 220.127.116.11;
2, Paddon, Kennard, 18.104.22.168;
3, Gilmour, Macneall, 22.214.171.124;
4, C West, G Cowan (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9) 126.96.36.199;
5, Argyle, Deakin, 188.8.131.52;
6, M Jansen, J Farmer (Subaru Impreza WRX STI) 184.108.40.206. Championship points:
1, R Mason, 74; 2, H Paddon, 62; 3, E Gilmour, 52; 4, M Jansen, 41; 5, J Marston (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo8) 33; 6, P Malley (Ford Fiesta ST) 31.