Emma Gilmour and new co-driver have Rhianon Smyth have made an excellent start to their 2009 Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) campaign by powering their Motor Image Racing Team Subaru Impreza WRX STI to third amongst their APRC series rivals on this weekend’s Queensland Rally.
With Gilmour’s team mate and defending champion Cody Crocker the top-placed APRC driver – ahead of former APRC champion Katsu Taguchi (Japan) – the result was a near-perfect start for the Motor Image Rally Team in the 2009 series.
Gilmour was forced to work hard for her fine result, with her car slowed by a niggling problem that saw it down on power on the opening leg of the two-day event. Despite this, she finished the first day placed fourth in the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) field.
Hard work by her team on Saturday evening had the car running much better on Sunday.
Gilmour was determined to post some strong stage times and hold on to her overnight position, with her main threats coming from reigning Kiwi rally champion Hayden Paddon, who was on the charge after mechanical problems on Saturday’s opening stages, and Frenchman Jean-Louis Leyraud. Gilmour already had Leyraud’s measure before he crashed into retirement. She also has enough of a buffer over Paddon to hold him at bay before he too succumbed to the challenging conditions on the very last stage of the Queensland event.
An unexpected bonus for Gilmour came when third-placed Gauray Gill punctured on the final stage. Gill, whose co-driver is Gilmour’s partner-in-life Glenn Macneall, lost some four minutes through the stage. That delay was enough to allow Gilmour through to snatch third, and with it a further APRC bonus point for her pace, on the second day of the event.
“I don’t think Glenn will allow me to crow too much about picking up third on the final stage, but from my perspective it really was the icing on the cake after a rally that was every bit as tough as I had expected,” Gilmour said. “With so much new for me – the roads, my car, and my co-driver Rhiannon Smyth – I had simply set my sights on a respectable finish. Fourth place would have been just that, but finishing third makes it a whole lot more special.”
Photographs by Alan MacDonald – MacSpeed