Gilmour claims best ever NZRC finish


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eMail | www.emmagilmour.com



Family - Dad Alistair, Mum Carola, Sister Monica
Relationship - Partner Glenn
Hometown - Dunedin, New Zealand
Education - St Hilda's Collegiate, BA Otago University
Hobbies - Fitness, Trailbike riding,shopping, reading
First Rally - Targa, Mar 02 (Tarmac), Rally Rotorua, Jun 02 (Gravel)
First Rally Car - Mitsubishi Evo 3
Movie - Blades of Glory
Book - The Time Traveller's Wife, Audrey Niffenegger
Actor - Johnny Depp
Food - Grandma's Baking
Weekend Pastime - Other than rallying?! Riding my Yamaha WRF250
Rally Driver - Marcus Gronholm
Rally Stage - Waipu Caves (NZ), Ouninpohja (International)
Rally (NZ) - All of them! Otago, Catlins, Targa, RTTS.....
Rally (International) - Finland - to watch and compete in.
Quote -"Dream as if you'll live forever, live as if you'll die today." J. Dean


Dancing With Cars

Put ace rally car driver Emma Gilmour in the co-driver's seat, and she'll have to take car-sickness tablets. Place her in front of one of those simulated Playstation rally games and her stomach will revolt. But let her get her hands on the steering wheel and she's a different woman altogether: "I'm a shocking passenger, but I'm fine when I'm driving." This adrenalin-hungry twenty-six-year-old is happiest when hurtling along a gravel road in her rally car, trying to nudge ahead of her competitors: "It's just this amazing feeling", says Gilmour. "You feel at one with the car, like it's an extension of yourself. When everything's working perfectly and you're getting from apex to apex it's a huge rush. It's like making the car dance."

She hasn't always been a petrol head. From the age of eight until she was in her early twenties horses were Gilmour's thing. She was hell-bent on equestrian life and dreamt of representing New Zealand at the Olympics in the three-day event. She thinks there's more bravery involved in sitting atop a fast-moving maned creature than there is in sitting behind the wheel at a rally: "I think horse riding is one of the most fearless sports around, especially the cross-country riding. I mean you've got half a ton of animal that might fall on you - it's a really gutsy sport."

But she lost her horse-riding nerve after an encounter with a cantankerous young horse: "He was rearing up so I got off because I was really scared, and you know from pony club that you've got to get back on them and show them who's boss. And I thought no, I don't want to get back on you. I bawled my eyes out all the way home. And that was it: I gave it up - cold turkey. I also had a couple of friends who'd had bad accidents - one had her hip replaced and another had a head injury. I suppose you don't mind injuring yourself if you're doing something you really love but I just wasn't getting enough of a kick out of it anymore."

With horses off the menu, she tried her hand at downhill mountain-bike riding, trail bikes, and rowing. She was also completing a Design Studies degree at the University of Otago during this time (with side helpings of History, Philosophy and Management). Design Studies tickled her creativity but it did nothing to close the yawning adrenalin gap in her life.

And so it was that she climbed into the rally car driver's seat in 2002 (with a few years of co-driving under her belt) and stunned fellow racers and onlookers at her first tarmac event - the Targa Bambina Rally. Her father, an A-grade mechanic, offered to sit with her in the co-driver's seat to make sure she was OK. She was more than OK: she came 1st in the 4WD class and 6th overall from 98 entries. Says Gilmour, "Dad was just totally blown away by how quickly I picked it up. I was just instantly fast."

Thus emboldened, she asked Australian World Rally Championship co-driver Glenn Macneall if he'd team up with her for her first gravel race. Much to her surprise he said yes, popped across the Tasman for the event, and pronounced her "seriously talented" (and, as it happens, also found her seriously fanciable: romance bloomed soon thereafter). Macneall's thumbs-up convinced her to pursue this penny-sucking sport as more than just a hobby, and since then it's been onwards and upwards. Gilmour has consistently managed competitive times at both local and international rallies and was dubbed "the next big thing" by Sunday magazine in 2005.

She knows that the reason she was such an immediate media and sponsorship magnet was due in part to the simple fact of her sex. "There are very very few girls that are fast. There've been a lot of girls in motorsport who've come in and marketed the whole girl-in-a-male-sport thing and it works for a short time but if you're not getting results it doesn't last."

Female drivers have long been ill-served by that weary old stereotype: one that has them riding the clutch, slowing the traffic, and being far more interested in the colour of the car than its engine specifications. When asked if this old chestnut has dogged her progress through the ranks Gilmour says, "No. But then I suppose I'm not someone who gets really het up about feminist issues. If I was someone who bit at every comment I heard they'd probably wind me up more, but because I just sort of roll with it, they take me seriously. I'm not there to push the whole women's issue. I don't want to be the first woman home - I'd rather be the first competitor home. And the boys are really good - if I make a real effort to try and learn something about a car they make a real effort to teach me about it. And I think that would be the same with any woman and a car - if women show an interest in it, generally a guy will be happy to teach them about it."

In between racing events she works on keeping herself in good physical nick because rally car driving, while largely conducted from one's butt, is actually a lot more physically demanding than you'd expect. Gilmour and other drivers once did a test where they wore heart-rate monitors for the length of an event and were amazed to see that their heart rates nudged the 180-190 beats per minute mark. "You wouldn't think it", she says, "because it's not anaerobic, but it's pretty taxing on the body so you need to be fit. And you get quite hot because you've got your full overalls and balaclava and helmet on."

Along with physical stamina and natural speed, a top rally car driver needs to be blessed with a good dose of fearlessness. While motor-love runs in the Gilmour blood (her grandfather was also a mechanic) she also seems to have native unshakeable pluck: "I suppose I'd say that I'm pretty gutsy. When I'm driving fast in a car I don't feel in danger and that's probably due to being brought up around speed. You need to be strong mentally - I'm pretty unflappable. My confidence is probably my weakest link in that I don't rate myself enough." But doesn't fearlessness go hand in hand with confidence? "Yeah I suppose. But every male naturally rates himself as a driver - and I'm not just talking racing car drivers. Whereas a lot of girls I know are really good drivers but they don't rate themselves."

But all the fearlessness in the world doesn't squash those pre-race nerves. Says Gilmour, "Before I start an event I have to get into an aggressive mode because it's easy to become passive in the car. Quite often I'll listen to music, visualise how I want to drive and get myself into the mindset." When pressed to reveal what sort of music revs her up (one assumes that Schubert or a Gregorian chant would not do the trick) she hesitates. "Oh, it'd be embarrassing to say! Probably some Guns & Roses or ACDC. Definitely heavier music - it just changes your mood so much".

And the moral of this tale? Enrol in Design Studies and you'll develop a hankering for burning rubber and Guns & Roses?




2nd Overall NZRC Round 1, Rally Otago
4th Overall NZRC Round 2, Rally New Zealand
2nd PWRC WRC Round Rally New Zealand
2nd Overall APRC Round 2, Rally Whangarei
2nd Overall NZRC Round 3, Rally Whangarei
3rd Overall NZRC Round 4, Rally Nelson
3rd Overall NZRC Round 5, Rally Wairarapa
2nd NZ Rally Championship
Ranked Worlds No 1 Female Rally Driver


3rd Overall NZRC Round 1, Hawkes Bay
3rd Overall APRC Round 1, Rally Queensland
3rd Overall NZRC Round 2, Rally Otago
2nd Overall NZRC Round 3, Rally Whangarei
3rd Overall APRC Round2, Rally Whangarei
2nd Overall NZRC Round 4, Rally Wairarapa
5th Overall NZRC Round 5, Rally Nelson
4th Overall APRC Round 3, Rally Japan
2nd Overall APRC Round 4, Rally Malaysia
3rd Overall APRC Round 5, Rally Indonesia
2nd Overall APRC Round 6, Rally China
3rd NZ Rally Championship
2nd FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship


16th Overall WRC Rally NZ
3rd Overall Rally Nelson
3rd (4th) Overall) Targa Rally


2nd Overall Otago Rally, Round 1 NZ Rally Championship
Stage wins at NZ round of Asia Pacific Rally Championship in Whangarei before having major accident on Waipu Caves stage. Unfortunately the car was written off, but Emma did receive excellent media coverage through the accident and featured on Murray Deaker's TV Sport Show.
Winner of Rally NZ Scholarship for entry into PWRC at NZ Round of WRC.
Invited by Subaru Rally Team Japan to contest the Japanese Round of the WRC.
Set top 3 PWRC Stage times at Rally Japan.


Winner of the Rally Founders Trophy 2006
The Rally Founders Trophy is awarded annually to the rally driver who not only performs with distinction, but who also demonstrates a sportsmanlike attitude and is a worthy ambassador for the sport.
4th Overall Otago Rally, Round 1 NZ Rally Championship, 3rd equal on points
Race to the Sky International Hillclimb. Time: 8:48 6th overall, 2nd in class.
Awarded International Scholarship to compete in Fiesta in Rally Germany and Rally Finland.
Class stage wins in Rally Finland.
4th NZ Rally Championship
3rd Overall Targa Rally in Subaru Australia and Vantage supported Subaru. Emma lead the event for the first day of the 5 day rally.
Top 3 PWRC Stage times Rally NZ
Winner of Wild Card entry to International Fiesta Shoot Out. This prestigious shoot out is held at the M-Sport headquarters in Cumbria.
Invited to compete in Bettega Memorial Trophy in Bologna Italy. Emma's first drive in a World Rally Car and the first woman to compete at Bettega in the event's history.


John Haugland Rally School, Norway
Race to the Sky International Hillclimb
Mitsubishi Lancer - Hybrid Special
1st Open 4WD Class, 9th overall, first woman to set a sub 9 minute time. Due to major mechanical problems, this result was achieved during Emma's first ever attempt at the hill.
Rally of New Zealand WRC, NZRC
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6, Group N
2nd New Zealander and 2nd NZ Championship
Rally of Otago - 3rd overall
Wairarapa - 3rd heat 1, 6th overall
Dunlop Targa New Zealand - 5th overall (with a 3 minute penalty taken for 2 extra tyres)

Other notable highlights:

March 2002 Targa Bambina - Tarmac Rally
Emma's first every rally! 1st in 4WD class, 6th overall from 98 entries.
June 2002 Rally of Rotorua - NZ, APRC
Emma's first rally on gravel! Seeded 44th, finished 22nd after the day one baptism of fire with the legendary Motu stage first up. On a wet and slippery day two, Emma was setting times just outside the top ten in what was an international field and finished 16th overall for the event.

October 2002 Alpine Rally - Japan (Tarmac) Evo 5 group N
After coming to terms with mechanical difficulties in an unfamiliar car, Emma set top 10 stage times amongst an international field. On one stage Emma was within one second of her hero Possum Bourne's time, who went on to finish second in the event.

October 2004 Targa New Zealand (Tarmac)
Suzuki Ignis Sport - Manufacturer backed entry
30th Overall (200 entries), highest placed small engine car
Several competitors actually asked if the car really had a standard 1500cc engine because Emma beat so many bigger engine cars during the event. On the last day, in the wet, she set the 12th fastest stage time.

Gilmour claims best ever NZRC finish

Emma Gilmour has claimed her best ever result in the Vantage New Zealand Rally championship, securing runner-up honours after a strong drive to third place in the final round of the series in the Wairarapa.

Gilmour powered her Subaru Impreza STI to third in the Production Class on Saturday's opening leg of the Masterton-based event and a fine second on today's final leg to claim third-place overall. That result, combined with the two second placings and one fourth placing from the four other rounds of the championship saw her bag 291 championship points for the season.

That total was 31 points fewer than newly crowned champion Dean Sumner, but 65 more than former champion Richard Mason, who took third in the series after winning this weekend's Wairarapa event.

"I started this weekend knowing that Dean would have to strike trouble for us to have a chance of catching him in the championship," said Gilmour. "Unfortunately for us, he drove another good event and finished strongly."

"Dean and I are the only two of the top drivers to have finished every championship round, and there's usually been just a place between us at the end of each event, so we have had some great battles over the course of the year. I'd like to congratulate him on winning the national championship title for the first time."

"For me it has been a case of going one-better than in 2009, when we finished third in the series. My sights are now set on going one-better again in 2011 and taking the title win."

Gilmour had hoped to challenge for victory on the Wairarapa event but, like Sumner, suffered early on from being one of the first cars through the thickly-gravelled stages.

"He started first on the road and I was next on the Saturday, so both of us lost time ploughing through the gravel and clearing it off to the sides. Then, just when I felt I was getting on top of the conditions, a small mechanical problem slowed me up."

Benefiting from a better start position on the Sunday, Gilmour enjoyed a far stronger run, over which she finished second to Mason by just 11.5 seconds. The combined times for the two days saw her placed third for the event behind Mason and Sumner.
Source: www.emmagilmour.com/a_standard.asp?cid=66772578&aid=-885150669


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