Tough rally for Gilmour but she gains in confidence with strong final day performance.
September 3, 2008, 9.30pm. A steering problem on her Subaru Impreza WDX STi cost Emma Gilmour dearly in the 2007 Rally of New Zealand which finished on Sunday afternoon.
She came home 33rd after being placed as high as 24th overall, third in the race for first Kiwi honours and eighth in the production world rally championship (PWRC) category.
Looking for a confidence-building run in her Vantage Team Subaru, she started strongly, recording second-fastest production class time through the first part of the rally’s opening stage.
But a series of niggling problems then blunted her pace: first was a broken engine mount which adversely affected the handling of her car throughout Friday, and also caused damage that became apparent later in the event.
“To be honest, at first I thought the problem was me, but eventually we worked out it was an engine mount,” she said. “With it broken the engine was moving about, which in turn made the car’s handling a little unpredictable.”
She started Saturday’s second 23rd overall, eighth in the PWRC field and fifth in the national championship division.
She made steady progress on Saturday morning, climbing to third New Zealander, before serious problems struck in the afternoon.
“I almost crashed on the second corner of the first stage after lunch when I steered into it, but the car didn’t turn in as it should have,” she said.
“I wound on more lock, and suddenly the car turned in massively.”
Gilmour completed the stage but decided that it was too dangerous to tackle the day’s final stage. It turned out that the front differential and steering rack were both broken, probably having been damaged by the engine moving about the day before.
Withdrawing meant that Gilmour had to take a 10-minute time penalty that dropped her to 39th overall before rejoining for the third leg.
“From my point of view of my own driving, the final day was my best of the event,” she said. “The team started the event determined to continue to rebuild my confidence, and despite plenty of frustrations along the way that is what we have achieved.”
Photo by Subaru Motorsport/Geoff Ridder.