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Emma Gilmour has set her sights on special stage wins and a top-three finish overall at the  September 23-24 New Zealand Rally Championship finale in Nelson.

The Dunedin-based 26 year old will be back behind the wheel of her Vantage Team Subaru Impreza at Nelson for the second time since contesting two rounds of the world championship in Europe last month and is determined to end the 2006 Kiwi series on a high note.

“Although we finished fourth at the last national round, I did not feel I quite did myself or the team justice,” says Gilmour. “It was just a couple of days after I had returned from Europe. The car wasn’t quite handling right, and looking back at the television footage I can see that my own performance was below par too, probably in part due to a bit of jet lag. At times it was a pretty wild ride for Chris [Cobham], my co-driver!”

Four weeks on, Gilmour says she is feeling far fresher.

“For me it has been a case of having a bit of break from competition after a pretty intense time contesting three big rallies in as many weeks in August,” she says. “Believe it or not, one of the things I have been doing is training to be a driving instructor. There is a training requirement associated with the Prime Ministers’ Scholarship I was awarded last year, and since I have already completed academic studies at University, I thought this would be an interesting thing to do.”

While Gilmour has been busy with her training, the team at Possum Bourne Motorsport has made further adjustments that should improve the handling of her Impreza for Nelson.

“If I am sharper and the car is sharper, there is no reason why we can’t achieve some stage wins at Nelson, and if we have a consistent rally then a podium result should flow from that,” she says.

Currently placed third in the national championship, which was won by her fellow Subaru driver Richard Mason at the previous round, Gilmour and Cobham are also one of three crews handily placed to challenge Brett Martin for runner-up honours in the series.

“Once again, to challenge Brett, not to mention keep Sam Murray and Chris West behind me, we will need to win some stages at Nelson, and be consistently quick on the others,” Gilmour says. “Richard Mason may already have won the overall title, but the battle for second place is set to go down to the wire.”

Gilmour will confirm her competition plans for the remainder of 2006 following the Nelson Rally.

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