Emma Gilmour has powered to her best-ever result in international rallying, finishing runner-up to her team mate Cody Crocker at the Malaysia round of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC)
Her second placing ends Gilmour’s run of national and international championship third places stretching back close to a year, and propels her to within two points of former champion Katsuhiko Taguchi in the 2009 APRC standings.
Rain made for slithery roads on the rally’s opening leg, with Taguchi one of those who fell prey to the conditions; he crashed his Mitsubishi Evo into retirement on the day’s seventh stage, leaving the way clear for Crocker and Gilmour to score their first one-two finish for the Motor Image Subaru Racing Team.
The rally’s opening day was not without its dramas for Gilmour either: an intercom failure meant she was forced to complete two stages without the benefit of pace note instructions from co-driver Claire Mole; rain then made conditions so bad that she spun several times in a single stage, damaging the steering of her Subaru Impreza STi in the process.
“I knew the Malaysian stages would be especially tough if it was wet, but nothing can actually prepare you for competing in such slippery conditions for the first time,” Gilmour said. “We spun five times, and overshot a junction all on one stage; usually that would add up to an absolute disaster in rallying terms, but because conditions were so bad we found ourselves counting the stage as a success, simply because we recovered from those dramas to complete it!”
“Finishing the day was an achievement in itself, and doing so in second place for the day was just the icing on the cake really.”
Having lost several minutes to Crocker with the car’s bent steering, and with Taguchi and his team mate Gaurav Gill both casualties of the opening leg, Gilmour found herself having to take a conservative approach for Sunday’s second leg of the rally.
“It was a difficult day mentally, because there was not a lot to gain, but an awful lot to lose,” she said. “Conditions were drier so the stages were much improved, but this time our challenge was handling the amazing humidity and heat. Claire and I were both wearing special cool suits, but even so it was close to unbearable in the car at times!”
Gilmour and Mole maintained their concentration throughout the day, even managing to beat team mate Crocker through one of the stages, and so confirmed their second placing for the rally.
“Having finished third in the championship field on every rally we have contested previously this year, it was a great feeling taking a further step up on the podium,” Gilmour said. “Confirming a one-two finish for the team at the same time made the result all the sweeter.”
Gilmour’s next event is the final round of the New Zealand Rally Championship, which will run out of Nelson on 19-20 September. She is currently placed second in the NZ series behind defending champion Hayden Paddon. Her next APRC round is the 3-4 October Rally Indonesia.
Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC), Rally Malaysia, 11-12 July
Results for APRC & Pacific Cup -registered drivers
1. Cody Crocker, Ben Atkinson (Australia, Subaru Impreza STi) 3h16m22s
3. Emma Gilmour, Rhianon Smyth (NZ, Subaru Impreza STI) 3h37m11s
3. Rifat Sungkar, Scott Beckwith (Indonesia, Mitsubishi Evo) 3h41m29s.
Asia-Pacific Rally Championship Points (after four rounds)
1, Cody Crocker (Australia) 63pts
2. Katsuhiko Taguchi (Japan) 36pts
3 Emma Gilmour (New Zealand), 34pts
4 Brian Green (NZ) 9 pts
5 Gaurav Gill (India) 8pts.