Emma Gilmour has her focus firmly on securing the top-three finish that eluded her on the final stage of the recent Drivesouth Rally of Otago, at this weekend’s two-day ENEOS International Rally of Whangarei.
She and Australian co-driver Anthony Mcloughlin were cruelly robbed of a podium place in the Vantage Windows and Doors Suzuki Swift AP4 after a puncture on the last test saw them hemorrhage time and drop back through the field.
Three weeks on and Emma can now joke about it - just. She has updated her rattle gun and jack system to better handle trye changes on tricky terrain, should this misfortune arise again over the 292km Whangarei event.
“We had a really positive start at Otago and it’s a shame that we didn’t get the finish that we should have. However, onwards and upwards and we are focusing on banking some solid championship points this weekend in the Suzuki," Emma says.
It has been a quick turn-around for Emma’s team to prepare the rally car and send it on its way from Dunedin to Whangarei for this second round of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship.
Although there are also only three weeks between the third and fourth rounds in Canterbury and South Canterbury respectively, in June, at least the Suzuki will not have to travel to the opposite end of the country.
Despite the distance, Emma always relishes the chance to rally on the Whangarei roads and is excited about the inclusion of several new stages this year, which will mix it up for all the regular entrants of this event.
This year’s rally celebrates 30 years of FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) competition. Currently, Whangarei is New Zealand’s only international-level car rally event, meaning the top NZRC drivers are able to compare their stage times to the best of the APRC competitors.
Following shakedown and testing on the Friday afternoon, the competing cars will be on show at the autograph session from 5pm on the “The Fishhook of Pohe” bridge.
At 6pm there is an official welcome with the teams then traveling to the first of two runs of the adjacent Pohe Island Super Special Stage, located inside the William Fraser Memorial Park.
From early Saturday morning the day’s three, double-run stages journey north toward Paihia and then across to Helena Bay before returning to Whangarei and a service break. The journey is repeated in the afternoon.
Sunday starts at 7am with the action moving south through the Waipu Caves and Millbrook areas before heading west and north through Waiotira then back to Whangarei for a service break mid-morning.
Following the late morning/early afternoon repeat run, the cars then arrive back in Whangarei for the ceremonial finish, held at the Quayside Town Basin from 3pm.
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