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Emma Gilmour consolidated her third placing in the 2009 Vantage New Zealand Rally Championship with a strong result over both legs of this weekend’s Otago Rally.

The 29 year old claimed third place behind former national champion Richard Mason and defending national champion Hayden Paddon on Saturday’s opening leg of the rally, running as high as second overall and winning the  leg-ending super special stage along the way.

On Sunday’s second leg Gilmour again found herself shadowing Mason and Paddon in the Group N Production Class, and Andrew Hawkeswood in his more powerful open-class car also came between her and the front of the event.

Gilmour’s chance to regain third overall off Hawkeswood came on the rally’s final stage, when he lost time after smashing into a gate and badly damaging his car. Unfortunately she too had troubles in the final stage as a problem with her Vantage Team Subaru Impreza WRX’s centre differential worsened.

Despite losing pace because of it, she still managed to set second-fastest time on the last stage to confirm her third placing in the Production Class and fourth placing overall for both the leg and the Otago Rally.

“It’s been another solid result which is really important in the context of the championship, though I must admit I was hoping I would be able to push both Richard [Mason] and Hayden [Paddon] a little harder this weekend,” Gilmour said.

“To be fair, I did just that on Saturday’s opening leg, aside from on two stages where a poor tyre choice worked against us; if you look at the times for that day, I was quicker than both of them on three stages, and faster than one or other of them on two more stages.”

“Sunday’s stages were far faster than Saturday’s, and I struggled to find a rhythm early on. I also felt the car wasn’t handling quite right, and while we couldn’t pinpoint the reason at first, it seems now that it may have been the beginnings of the differential problem that became more obvious later.”

“Maybe that cost me one place overall, which is a shame, but since Andrew is in a car that is not eligible to score series points, it meant nothing in terms of the championship.”

Emma now has three weeks to prepare for the 6-7 June Whangarei Rally, an event which counts towards both her New Zealand and Asia-Pacific championships.

Results: 2009 Rally of Otago

Heat 1
1, R & S Mason (Masterton, Subaru Impreza WRX STI) 1hr 18mins 13.5 secs;
2, H Paddon, J Kennard (Geraldine, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo) 1.18.29.3;
3, E Gilmour, G Macneall (Hamilton, Subaru Impreza WRX STI) 1.18.49.5;
4, D Sumner, P Fallon (Rotorua, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo) 1.18.56.4;
5, A Hawkeswood, R Hudson (Alexandra, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo) 1.19.08.9;
6, G Argyle, T Cox (Palmerston North, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo) 1.19.55.5.

Heat 2
1, Paddon, 1hr09m10.4s; 2, Mason, 1.09.44.9; 3, Hawkeswood, 1.10.01.6; 4, Gilmour, 1.10.25.9; 5, Argyle, 1.11.03.4; 6, Sumner, 1.11.21.0

National Championship Points (after two of five rounds)
1, Mason, 141pts; 2, Paddon, 131; 3, Gilmour, 104; 4, Matt Jansen, 68; 5, Sumner, 65; 6, West, 60.

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