Emma Gilmour is targeting a season’s end win at this weekend’s Wairarapa Rally, which is the final round of the 2010 Vantage Aluminium Joinery New Zealand Rally Championship.

Still in with a chance of taking the championship title should current series leader Dean Sumner falter, Gilmour says the only option open to her this weekend is to drive her Subaru Impreza STI as hard as possible for victory.

“With Dean having a 29-point advantage over us it’s a bit of a long shot to take the title,” Gilmour says. “The best way we have of putting pressure on him is by scoring the maximum points possible. That means winning Saturday’s opening leg of the rally for starters, and then following up with another win on Sunday’s second leg.”

Her bid to achieve just that result on last month’s penultimate championship round in Nelson was thwarted by double illness, with Gilmour driving with a severe cold, and her car suffering from a worsening engine problem. As a result, she had to settle for third on an event she had hoped to win.

For the Wairarapa, both driver and car are back to full health, with Gilmour requiring a course of antibiotics to clear a lingering sinus infection, and her Impreza’s engine needing some careful attention from Dwight Scott of ScottSpeed Performance Engines.

“As it turned out, the engine problem in Nelson was even more serious than we thought; basically, the crankshaft was about to go, and we were probably lucky just to make the finish,’ Gilmour says. “Dwight has done a fantastic job, giving the engine a full rebuild in quite limited time, so I owe him a huge thank you.”

While Sumner’s point’s advantage means he can take a tactical approach to the weekend, Gilmour still expects a very tough battle for top honours in the Wairarapa.

Most obviously, Rally Wairarapa is the home event for former national champion Richard Mason, who finished second at Nelson last month, and who is an especially tough opponent on his local roads. Another ex-national champion Chris West has been on the pace this season, and will be out to make an impression on the final round of the series.

The 2010 Wairarapa Rally comprises 14 special stages totalling 230 kilometres. Saturday’s route opens with two all-new stages east of Carterton and Masterton before heading north to familiar stages around Eketahuna. Sunday’s stages are based around Eketahuna, and have all been used in previous years.

Vantage New Zealand Rally Championship points heading for the Wairarapa:
1, D Sumner, 264; 2, E Gilmour, 235; 3, C West, 179; 3, Hayden Paddon, 168; 5, R Mason 152.

Photo Geoff Ridder

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