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Emma climbs to third in rally championship


Emma Gilmour has climbed to third in the New Zealand Rally Championship after a solid drive on the Wairarapa Rally.

Emma Gilmour has climbed to third in the New Zealand Rally Championship after a solid drive on the Wairarapa Rally.

Back behind the wheel of her Vantage Team Subaru Impreza for the first time since contesting the German and Finnish world championship events in a Fiesta, Gilmour was classified fourth overall in the national field for the two-day, two-heat event.

With one of her closest series rivals, Sam Murray, failing to finish the second heat, her results over the two heats that comprised the event lifted Gilmour from fourth to third in the national series.

"It has been quite an adjustment getting back behind the wheel of the Impreza after those two European rallies," Gilmour said. "The Fiesta I was driving over there was like a souped-up Grandma's shopping trolley compared to the Subaru, which is a thoroughbred rally car."

Along with the inevitable adjustment between cars, Gilmour's problems on the opening day of the Wairarapa event included a puncture on the longest stage of the event and a collision with a sheep, but she persevered to finish fifth in the national field for the leg.

Come Sunday, the Dunedin-based 26 year old started with a spin, but changes to the car's suspension brought progressive improvements throughout the day. She eventually came home fourth in the national field for the leg, less than 15 seconds behind third-placed Brett Martin, and was also classified fourth for the national event overall.

"The key things are that we have made progress with the car's handling throughout the event, and once again scored points in both heats of an event," she said. "I probably underestimated the impact of having to contest an event so soon after the trip back from Europe. Now it is over, I feel absolutely shattered."

Fortunately Gilmour now has a four-week break before the national championship final in Nelson. She will start that event just 14 points behind current championship runner-up Brett Martin (Mitsubishi), but with Subaru running-mates Murray and Chris West right on her tail in the series standings.

Out front, defending champion Richard Mason is already celebrating, have clinched the 2006 at the weekend. He did so in some style, taking his Impreza to first place in heat one, second in heat two, and overall victory for the event.

New Zealand Rally Championship (NZRC) round 5, Wairarapa Rally, 26-27 August

Heat One NZRC Wairarapa Rally
Richard Mason/Sara Randall (Masterton, Subaru) 1h18m58.7s, 1; Chris West/Garry Cowan (Auckland, Subaru) 1h19m28.6s, 2; Brett Martin/Raymond Bennett (Taihape, Mitsubishi Evo 9) 1h19m36.4s, 3; Sam Murray/Rob Ryan (Palmerston North, Subaru) 1h19m55.8s, 4. Emma Gilmour/Chris Cobham (Dunedin, Subaru) 1h20m08.7s, 5.

Heat Two NZRC Wairarapa Rally
West 0h50m00.9s, 1; Mason 0h50m05.5s, 2; Martin 0h50m48.6.0s, 3; Gilmour 0h51m09.5s, 4; Hayden Paddon/John Kennard (Geraldine, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6) 0h51m12.3s, 5.

NZRC Wairarapa Overall Result
Mason, 1; West, 2; Martin, 3; Gilmour, 4, Paddon, 5.

NZRC Championship points after 5 rounds: Mason 296pts (now confirmed as 2006 champion), 1, Martin 202, 2; Gilmour 188, 3; Murray 183, 4; West 182, 5.

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