Kiwi rally ace Emma Gilmour will press hard to transform the third placing she has already secured in the 2009 Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) into a second placing at this weekend’s season finale in China
Gilmour’s Motor Image Racing Team mate, Australian Cody Crocker, has already taken outright honours in the series. She, though currently third in the points, is still within striking distance of second-placed Japanese driver Katsuhiko Taguchi.
“It’s a big ask to overhaul him given that this will be my first time rallying in China, whereas he has been there several times before,” admits Gilmour. “However, with third place in the championship already secured I can take the chance to push harder than usual and see what result that brings.”
Gilmour currently trails Taguchi by six points in the championship standings, so will have to beat him by a decent margin to overhaul her points deficit.
Looking back on a 2009 APRC season in which she has finished second or third on every event she has contested, Gilmour has identified two key areas to work on in lifting her pace. The first is to start fast, even on events that she is unfamiliar with. The second is to continue to do the same, even when conditions become unexpectedly challenging.
“The last two rounds – held in Malaysia and Indonesia – have been especially challenging in that respect,” she says. “As well as new roads and new cultures to adjust to, there has been unseasonal downpours which have made conditions incredible treacherous. I have driven to survive when those conditions have become really nasty, but with hindsight have probably backed off too much.”
After the heat and humidity of the last two rounds, Gilmour is looking forward to cooler and hopefully much drier conditions on the China Rally, which is based in the inland town of Longyou, some 400km southwest of Shanghai. Conditions are typically dry in the area during November, with cool average temperatures of around twelve degrees.
Run over two days the rally is scheduled to comprise 16 special stages totalling 220 kilometres.
The event is also round four of the Chinese national series, and features a number of overseas drivers as well as local competitors.
“The overseas contingent includes some top competitors such as British driver David Higgins and Australian Dean Herridge, as well as several very quick Finnish drivers,” explains Gilmour. “I find that a real positive as a competitor, as it means there are even more really good opponents that I can match myself against.”
The China Rally will be the last event of a big 2009 rally season for Gilmour, in which she has already secured a career-best third placing in the New Zealand national championship.
Asia-Pacific Rally Championship Points (heading into the final round)
1 Cody Crocker (Australia) 79pts; 2 Katsuhiko Taguchi (Japan) 47pts; 3 Emma Gilmour (New Zealand), 41pts; 5 Gaurav Gill (India) 11pts. 4 Brian Green (NZ) 9 pts.