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Emma Gilmour is expecting her new Suzuki Swift Maxi will be ideally suited to the forestry special stages that comprise this weekend’s Canterbury Rally.

The event, which is the fourth round of the 2013 national rally championship, will be Gilmour’s third competitive outing in the turbo-charged, four-wheel drive Swift that has been a talking point of the series. In previous appearances with the car she has secured a number of top-three special stage times, but outright stage wins have eluded her.

Scoring stage wins and making to it to the finish of the event comprise Gilmour’s two key objectives heading for the Canterbury event, which will feature high-speed competition in the Ashley and Okuku Forests, just north of Rangiora.

“Much of our test programme with the Swift Maxi has been on forestry roads, and its suspension set-up and handling characteristics make the car really well suited to the relatively rough conditions that are a feature of forestry rallying,” Gilmour says. “This is an event I have really been looking forward to since the start of the season, and I am confident we are going to show excellent pace.”

The Ashley and Okuku Forests and the Canterbury Rally were an established part of the national championship scene from the early 1980s to the mid-1990s, but have not featured regularly on the national calendar in recent years.

Gilmour, however, has competed in the Ashley Forest previously, when the Canterbury Rally was a round of the Mainland (South Island) championship.

“That was several years ago”, she says. “While I don’t recall the stages in any detail, I do remember them as being similar to roads we have been testing on close to our home base in Dunedin.”

Gilmour and co-driver Glenn Macneall have been awarded the seventh seed for the event, which is forecast to be run in damp conditions.

“Hopefully it will be wet, as dust can be quite an issue in forestry stages when it is dry,” says Gilmour.

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