Gilmour eager to start season at Whangarei


Photo: Emma Gilmour and her Suzuki Swift Maxi (Photo credit Alan Dove)

Emma Gilmour has returned from testing with Rhys Millen Racing in the United States, ready to begin her national campaign at the VINZ International Rally of Whangarei this weekend.

Over in America, she will be driving a race-tuned Veloster, as the first female to race in the 10-round Global Rallycross Championship, but back in New Zealand she is piloting her Suzuki Swift Maxi rally car.

“Although it was an amazing experience to spend some time in a 600 horse power rallycross car, I actually can’t wait to get my Suzuki back out doing some competitive kilometres.”

Beginning with a ceremonial start this Friday night, the event uses 241.11 km of flowing rural roads in the Far North and Whangarei regions, giving Dunedin-based Emma plenty of time to get reacquainted with her highly-modified Swift.

New co-driver, the experienced Australian, Ben Atkinson, is no stranger to sitting next to Emma and she is looking forward to teaming up with him again. The pair contested the International Rally of Whangarei in 2010 and 2011 together. Their first outing proved their compatibility in the car, and Emma achieved her highest placing in the event – a second outright in 2010.

“I really enjoy the Whangarei roads and have enjoyed some success here, including my first heat win, in 2012,” she says.

Emma feels she has the right package to press for victory this year, with testing and development work to her home-built car over the off-season improving its handling and tailoring it more to her style of driving.

On Saturday night she will be able to try her Suzuki out in the dark – joining the nine international entries and 39 New Zealand teams who will tackle the short-sharp 1.25km Hella Pohe Island Super Special Stage from 7pm. It is the first time the event has run cars at night time.

The Hella Pohe Island venue accounts for two of the 14 speed tests competitors from India, Japan, China, Czech Republic, Australia and New Zealand will be challenged by.

The International Rally of Whangarei is the opening round of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC), Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship, driven by VINZ and Top Half Rally Series (THS).

Emma thanks Suzuki and Vantage Aluminium Joinery as her primary sponsorship partners, plus supporting sponsors Gilmour Motors, Metalman, Supercharge Batteries, Castrol, PPG Paint, Pfitzner Performance Gearboxes, Hella, Apparelmaster, Interislander, Rothbury, Dunlop, Rock radio station, Metalspray and Arai helmets.

Emma’s 2014 national rally programme comprises the following events: Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally ChampionshipRally of Whangarei, 11-13 April; Rally of Otago, 10-11 May; Canterbury Rally, 01-02 June; Rally Wairarapa, 28 June; Rally New Zealand (Coromandel) 23 August; Daybreaker Rally (Manawatu), 27 September.


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The New Zealand Rally Championship is this country’s premier nationwide rally championship. It attracts New Zealand’s best drivers to compete in numerous categories for the prestigious MotorSport New Zealand-sanctioned rally championship titles. In 2024, there are six NZRC rounds, each with a unique character reflecting the diverse regions – from Northland to Invercargill