Leading Subaru drivers Sam Murray and Emma Gilmour have put the mid-winter New Zealand Rally Championship break to good use, testing their Impreza WRX STi’s in preparation for this Saturday’s Hawke’s Bay Rally.
Murray (right) is third on championship points, 20 points behind leader Richard Mason, and is looking for a better result than what he achieved at the Masterton-based event.
That cause will be helped by Mason’s absence this weekend – he’s rallying in China (see story page 34).
“We’ve had a couple of good days of testing,” said Murray. “I don’t think we’ll struggle like we did at Wairarapa.”
The team has concentrated on the “deep gravel” set-up of the Impreza, to combat one of the handicaps of running near the front of the field – Murray has been seeded third for Saturday but will now run second on the road.
“We tested before the Whangarei round and got a good result up there,” said Murray. “But then we didn’t do anything before Wairarapa and paid the price.”
Murray said he believed the one day Hawke’s Bay event would be a hard day’s competition as the event travels to and from Wairoa after its Napier start.
After her major accident at Whangarei – her team built a replacement car in three weeks – Gilmour (above) is under no pressure in the championship, where she currently lies eighth.
“I just want to get some good results in the rest of the season,” she said this week.
Her latest model Impreza’s debut at Wairarapa was done with no testing. Now she has done 220 kilometres since that event.
“We’ve set up the brakes, differentials and suspension. It feels fantastic – better than the old car.”
Gilmour said she also realised how long it took to recover from the concussion she suffered in the Whangarei accident.
“I’m feeling a lot better than I was at Wairarapa. It’s taken about six weeks to come properly right.”
Gilmour has been seeded fourth but will start third on Saturday.