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Emma Gilmour has battled her way over rough, rutted roads to secure third amongst the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) contenders and fourth overall on the Rally Hokkaido in Japan.

The result, Gilmour’s sixth podium finish in succession, has allowed her to consolidate her third placing in the APRC standings behind her Motor Image Racing Team Subaru mate and defending APRC champion Cody Crocker (Australia) and their Mitsubishi-mounted rival and former APRC champion Katsu Taguchi (Japan).

Pre-event rain made road conditions for the Hokkaido event extremely treacherous, and Gilmour started the event steadily before picking up the pace and places.

On Saturday’s open leg the Hamilton-based New Zealander was the second-fastest APRC driver behind Crocker through two stages, and third-fastest APRC driver behind Crocker and Taguchi on six more stages. The day ended with Crocker leading overall from Taguchi. Gilmour, the next APRC contender, was placed fourth overall behind non-APRC driver Hiroshi Yanagisawa.

That order was maintained over Sunday’s far shorter second leg, though Taguchi closed the gap on Crocker, and Gilmour even managing to beat her team mate through longest stage of the day.

“Third in the APRC field was the result I came to Hokkaido determined to secure, so it has all worked out as planned,” said Gilmour. “It is really hard to describe the roads here; you almost have to see it to believe it. The ruts on Saturday were soft but easily came over the door sills and we were hitting them in corners in 4th and 5th gear.”

“Rallying in such conditions is extremely challenging. At least Rhianon [Smyth], my co-driver, is used to rough roads in her native Australia; even so, it is no easy task calling the pace notes when you are getting thumped around in the car so much. She has done a great job on her first time at this event.”

“Thankfully conditions were easier on Sunday’s stages, though having completed some very bumpy stages this weekend will stand us in good stead; our next two APRC rounds are in Malaysia and Indonesia, where conditions are known to be rough.”

Before Gilmour contests the next APRC rounds she will be back in action in the Vantage Aluminium Joinery New Zealand Rally Championships, at this weekend’s Masterton-based Wairarapa Rally.

“I am currently placed third in the Kiwi series too, and so have high hopes for this coming weekend,” says Gilmour. “It’s going to be a busy few days as I don’t get back from Japan until Tuesday afternoon, and then have to leave for Rally Wairarapa on Thursday.”

“Still, I know the team have my NZRC car prepared, and the Wairarapa event is one I really do look forward to. I’ll approach it with a new appreciation this time – for the smooth conditions we are so lucky to enjoy when rallying in New Zealand!”

Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC), Rally Hokkaido, 11-12 July
Results for APRC-registered drivers
1. Cody Crocker, Ben Atkinson (Australia, Subaru Impreza STi) 2h15m05.9s;
2. Katsuhiko Taguchi, Mark Stacey (Japan, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo) 2h16m15.8s;
3. Emma Gilmour, Rhianon Smyth (NZ, Subaru Impreza STI) 2h19m02.0s;

Asia-Pacific Rally Championship Points (after four rounds)
1, Cody Crocker (Australia) 49pts; 2. Katsuhiko Taguchi (Japan) 36pts; 3 Emma Gilmour (New Zealand), 23pts; 4 Brian Green (NZ) 9 pts; 5 Gaurav Gill (India) 7pts.
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