Gilmour to contest the Portugal Baja cross country rally
Dunedin’s Emma Gilmour is continuing her cross-country rallying adventures and with support from within New Zealand and abroad, she will contest the 500km Portugal Baja on October 28 and 29.
When she heads away this weekend to join the French Xtreme Plus Team, it will be the culmination of months of behind the scenes effort to raise the funds to compete.
“There has been so much support that I’m really grateful for. The team offered us a good deal to do the Portugal Baja and the Automobile Club of Portugal has also supported our entry. My long-term sponsors Vantage Windows and Doors, who have backed my New Zealand Rally Championship campaigns for many years, helped towards the opportunity as well,” Emma says.
She will be driving a Polaris off-road buggy and teaming up again with South African co-driver Sandra Labuscagne, who contested the Italian Baja cross country rally with her in June. The pair have been supported and mentored by Germany’s Jutta Kleinschmidt – who is the only female ever to have won the Dakar Rally – and the FIA, which is encouraging more women to compete in cross-country rallies.
“Sandra and I are really excited about competing together again and our ultimate goal is to be contesting the Dakar Rally and more FIA cross-country events,” Emma says.
The Polaris is a light, agile vehicle and Emma and Sandra will compete in the T 3 Class for off-road buggies.
Natively named the Baja Portalegre 500, the two-day event features only four long stages, with the longest stage a monster 220km long. Held in Portugal’s Alentejo region, it is part of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies.
“I am really enjoying the challenge of cross country rallying and there seems to be some great international opportunities with this tough, gritty discipline. I am still chasing the dream of competing overseas and am thrilled to have this further chance to do so,” Emma says.
Last year Emma won a fully-funded drive in the 2016 Sealine Cross Country Rally, in Qatar, which was held in April this year. She was selected as the outright winning driver in the joint FIA Women in Motorsport and Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) cross country rally selection after a five-day training camp in the Qatar desert.