Gilmour Girl epitomises rally spirit

| Photographer Credit: Peter Whitten

You may not have noticed it, but it was audible and long, and it happened on Saturday afternoon just south of Dunedin.

It was a huge sigh of relief, and it emanated from none other than New Zealand’s fastest female rally driver, Emma Gilmour.

After a year from hell behind the wheel, Gilmour had taken victory in the Otago Sports Car Club’s Circle Hill Rallysprint, and her relief was palpable.

The Dunedin Suzuki dealer has spent the last few years campaigning a Suzuki Swift in the New Zealand Rally Championship, and even took an event win back in 2016 (Rally Canterbury).

In recent times though, the car has proved to be the talented Gilmour’s Achilles heel.

Up-specced to AP4 regulations, the little Swift has struggled to match the pace of its newer rivals, with reliability going out the window as a result.

It would be enough for most people to walk away and cry in the corner (which Gilmour may well have done anyway), but she’s persevered, and Saturday’s result is a win for resilience.

“The way the season has gone, we are now focusing on doing mileage and development for 2020,” Gilmour told the Otago Daily Times.

“This event was a fantastic opportunity to drive on some great roads against some tough competition from around the South Island.

“It repays my sponsors, my team and everyone who has put in so much work into the Suzuki,” she said.

Her dedication to the Suzuki brand is admirable, although not surprising.

Similarly, her presence in the NZRC is, in many ways, just as important to the championship as Hayden Paddon’s regular appearances.

Having a female at the top of a male dominated sport brings diversity to rallying, and without a doubt helps with media promotion in areas that would not normally be possible.

In Australia, Molly Taylor is performing similar feats in her factory Subaru.

So, kudos to Emma Gilmour and her commitment to her cause, and may the remainder of the 2019 season continue to head on an upward curve.

She’ll return to the NZRC for the penultimate round of the six-round championship in the Coromandel on August 17.

Peter Whitten

Peter has been the editor of RallySport Magazine since its inception in 1989, in both printed and online form. He is a long-time competitor, event organiser and official, as well as working in the media.

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