Emma Gilmour will have a new co-driver alongside her when she bids to take the lead in the 2010 Vantage New Zealand Rally Championship at next month’s Rally of Whangarei.

As well as counting towards the New Zealand series, the Whangarei event is a round of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship. That means Gilmour’s regular co-driver, fiancée Glenn Macneall, will be unavailable due to a prior commitment to co-drive for Asia-Pacific contender Gaurav Gill on the rally.

MacNeall’s replacement alongside Gilmour in the Vantage Team Subaru Impreza WRX STi will be former world championship and Asia-Pacific series co-driver Ben Atkinson from Australia.

Atkinson is a top-flight international co-driver, having partnered Cody Crocker to successive Asia-Pacific title wins in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009. As Crocker’s co-driver, he was also one of Gilmour’s team mates when she contested last year’s Asia-Pacific series for the Motor Image Subaru Team.

“While he has never co-driven for me on an event before, Ben sat alongside me during testing last season, so we already have a good feel of how we will work together in the car,” says Gilmour. “He also has experience co-driving on many of stages that will feature on the Rally of Whangarei.”

Gilmour will start the Whangarei event as the second-placed driver in the 2010 Kiwi championship after strong runs on both the series opener in Otago, and on Rally New Zealand.

Though Whangarei also counts towards the Asia-Pacific series – on which she finished runner-up in 2009 – Gilmour’s sole focus will on bidding to win the New Zealand championship component of the event. For that reason she did not to seek one of the wildcard Asia-Pacific entries that would have enabled her to score points for that series as well as the Kiwi championship at Whangarei.

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