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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.

New Zealand Rally Championship, Rally of Wairarapa

Overall Classification
1, Richard Mason, Sarah Mason (Subaru Impreza WRX STI) 2h08m41.9s
2, Dean Sumner, Paul Fallon (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9) 2h09m26.0s
3, Emma Gilmour, Glenn Macneall (Subaru Impreza WRX STI) 2h09m43.0s

Vantage New Zealand Rally Championship points after the Rally of Wairarapa:
1, D Sumner, 322; 2, E Gilmour, 291; 3, R Mason 226; 4, Chris West, 199; 5, Hayden Paddon, 168.

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