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Emma Gilmour is expecting a new engine will make all the difference as she heads for this weekend's Rally Wairarapa looking for both speed and reliability from her new Suzuki Swift Maxi Rally car.

Reliability issues stemming from the extensively modified engine fitted to the Swift for the first rounds of the national rally championship have made for a frustrating few months for Gilmour. However her team have put the development time gained by missing the last championship round to good use, and elected to go with a less radical engine for this weekend's season finale.

That decision sees the Vantage Team Swift Maxi fitted with a 1.6 rather than 1.8-litre engine this weekend. The new engine is still turbocharged, and delivers what Gilmour describes as "staggering" power and torque. However, because it retains the same 1600cc capacity as the standard Swift engine from which it has been developed rather than being extended to 1800cc, better reliability should result.

"We have had the work on the new engine done locally, here in Dunedin," Gilmour explains. "We have run it in the car in an Otago Sports Car Club gravel hillclimb recently where we set fastest time by a clear margin. After what we have been through recently, that has been a great boost for all those who have put so many hours into the project."

Gilmour says that she would like to pay a special tribute to her team heading into this weekend's rally.

"The guys have worked hard on this project all year, but at no time more than over the past few weeks, where everyone has had to dig deep to get to the bottom of the issues we have experienced so far, and put in even more hours than usual to get the project back on track for the Wairarapa," she says. "I would also like to thank both Vantage and Suzuki NZ for their support and understanding over this time."

Starting and finishing in Masterton, Rally Wairarapa is a one-day 'sprint' event, held on Saturday 5 October. It comprises nine special stages ranging in length from seven to 21 kilometres. The first stage starts just before 8am on Saturday morning, and the first car is scheduled to complete the final stage at around 4pm.

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