‘Wiwat Chang of the Bangkok Post talks to New Zealander Emma Gilmour, new second driver of Singapore-based Motor Image rally team and Asia-Pacific Rally Championship’s (APRC) first ever female driver for the full season. In the co-driver’s seat was Australian Rhianon Smyth, making them the first all- female duo in the series.
– Do you come from a rallying family?
No, actually I was into horse riding, but I tried co-driving for my cousin and my sister back in 2002. Then I tried out driving myself at club level Autocross racing which is held on grass with plastic pylons marking out the track. I learned the basics – skid control – in Autocross. I really enjoyed it and got hooked to it, and that grew into rallying.
– What has been your biggest success?
Back in 2006 at the [World Rally Championship] Rally New Zealand I had some stage wins and led the Group N class (for some time) which really meant something for me rather than an outright win. I mean I was up there against the best drivers in the world in Group N cars.
– Was that the turning point in your rallying career?
Not really, although that inspired me to keep on rallying. My turning point came when I was being offered a drive with the Motor Image Rally Team – in a good car and with a good professional team. I mean up until now I had a good car, but it was not so consistent [in reliability] so my results weren’t [either]. But I knew I have the ability to put it all together. Now with Motor Image, I can focus on my drive, get the mileage and give the results without worrying about other things.
– Your APRC objective this year?
This year it’s very much about learning and I am very lucky to have Cody Crocker as my team mate. Cody has won the championship three times and he’s very experienced and so is the team. It is not about comparing stage times with Cody but to learn and build experience to get more mileage. So I will try to, first, finish the rallies before I can earn [championship] points.
– Did it have to be a female duo in APRC?
For me, I just want somebody who is best for the job and I am lucky that Rhianon is very good and the fact that she’s female is a double bonus. [A female duo] is a real media hook – like when the spectators see a pair of female rally crew and they’d go like, “wow, two girls in a car”. I mean you always see boys in cars – no novelty there! And it’s also because we are competitive means a bonus for Motor Image and for us. In fact, it’s enough a media hook with just one female driver in the car as there aren’t many around.