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Emma takes off-road result in Targa leg


Emma Gilmour is relieved her unintentional attempt to blaze a new road through the Taihape district only cost her one place on the third leg of the Targa New Zealand tarmac rally.

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The 26-year old Dunedin driver had just set fastest time on the third stage of the day, and was pushing hard for another top result through the fourth stage when she misjudged a crest, locked up, and slid off the road.

"At first it looked like the road opened out over the crest, but actually it tightened, and that caught me out," she said. "We locked up, ploughed on, and ended up stuck in some toi toi bushes for a couple of minutes. It was a mistake, but that is what happens when you are on the edge and pushing hard."

As well as dropping her off the tail of rally leader Joe McAndrew - who had been less than 20 seconds ahead going into the stage - the loss of two minutes was enough to drop Gilmour to fourth in the overall standings for the event.

A win on the next stage was enough to get the Vantage Team Subaru WRX STI up to third again, but to regain second Gilmour also needs to claw back 1min46secs on Australian Ray Vandersee in his Skelta G-Force special. That is likely to be a hard task as Vandersee has, along with McAndrew and Gilmour herself, been one of the three drivers winning stages on a regular basis.

"He is going to be hard to beat now which is disappointing," Gilmour said. "Still, it could have been a lot worse for us this morning, and there is still a long way to go."

Gilmour also had positive news on the performance of her guest co-driver, Darryl Thompson, who was forced to step aside midway through yesterday's second leg with car sickness.

"He took his tablets this morning, felt fine all day, and did a terrific job co-driving," she said.

Tomorrow's leg of the Targa loops from Palmerston North to Hastings; while Saturday's final leg is based in the Hawkes Bay.

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