New Zealand rally driver Emma Gilmour is joining world champion driver Rhys Millen to compete in a new two-car team in the Global Rallycross championship rounds in the United States this year.
The announcement was made this morning by Hyundai Motor America in conjunction with Rhys Millen Racing (RMR) a day before the GRC pre-season demo day in Lake Elsinore, California.
Not only will Emma be the first female to compete in the dirt-and tarmac-based circuits throughout North America but the Dunedin-based driver will also be one of the first two women to race in the action sports phenomenon, the X-Games, in June.
For an elated Gilmour, the announcement is the pinnacle high of her already successful driving career.
"It really is a dream come true. Going to America to race in a professional series with a professional team like Rhys Millen Racing is hard to believe. I have to keep pinching myself to remind myself it isn't a dream," she says.
"I am so excited about the opportunity and the new challenge of learning Rallycross. It's a true privilege to be the first female driver in the GRC series."
Gilmour will be joined by Australia's Sarah Burgess in making history as the first female X Games rally car drivers.
Gilmour will be driving a highly-tuned, fully race-prepared RMR Hyundai Veloster Turbo rallycross car. Its engine generates more than 600 peak horsepower from its four-cylinder turbocharged and intercooled powerplant - guaranteeing explosive acceleration out of corners.
The GRC circuit at each venue features a series of tight turns and a large jump where the cars become airborne, with most of the circuit visible to fans for the duration of the heat.
Gilmour's 2014 GRC season will kick-off at the Caribbean island of Barbados at the BBC Top Gear Festival on Saturday, May 17.
"I have never raced in Rallycross but I have had experience with high horse power cars with my current Suzuki Swift Maxi rally car and driving Possum Bourne's former hillclimb World Rally car," she said.
"I have also done some endurance circuit racing in a left hand drive Porsche GT3, but no doubt the GRC will present some exciting new challenges to test my driving skills."
Gilmour feels she "couldn't be more honoured" to be teamed up with Rhys Millen for the 2014 season. The New Zealand-born son of famed rally and off road racer Rod Millen, Rhys' accolades include being crowned 2012 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb champion (where he holds seven world records), 2008 Formula Drift World Champion and 2005 USA Drifting Champion.
"Rhys is one of the most sought after performance drivers, known worldwide for his legendary car control skills and combined with my years of successful rally experience, we are a perfect fit for the RMR team effort," Gilmour said.
Hyundai Motor America marketing vice president Steve Shannon said the two Velosters are definitely going to be pushed to the limit every race this season with rally veterans Millen and Gilmour at the helm.
"We're proud to team up with two drivers known for their precision and consistency, and we are especially excited to give Emma the opportunity to be the first female driver in Global Rallycross," said Shannon.
Along with her 10-race international schedule Emma is still looking forward to competing in the six-round New Zealand Rally Championship, in the radical, home-built Suzuki Swift Maxi she debuted last season.