Motorsport: Gilmour becomes first female winner in NZ Rally

Emma Gilmour competes during the Canterbury Rally 2016. Photo / Geoff Ridder
Emma Gilmour competes during the Canterbury Rally 2016. Photo / Geoff Ridder

Dunedin's Emma Gilmour has taken her first round win in the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship after an action packed Joe's Garage/Lonestar Rally Canterbury. Gilmour enters the records book as the first female driver to win a National Rally.

Gilmour and co-driver Anthony McLoughlin drove their Suzuki Swift to a victory of 1 minute 15 seconds over Andrew Hawkeswood and Jeff Cress in their Mazda two, with third place going to Carl Davies and Tracy Millar after a post rally penalty dropped Clinton Cunningham and Thomas Thexton off the podium.

It was a day of drama for the 36 NZRC teams. Local driver Matt Summerfield won the opening stage before engine failure, handing the lead to Gilmour, who would lead the field for the remainder of the event.

Other front runners to strike trouble included defending champion Ben Hunt with overheating, championship leader David Holder who left the road, as did local driver Richard Baddock.

Mechanical dramas also stopped Phil Campbell, Chris West, Glenn Inkster, Darren Galbraith and Shannon Chambers. In total, 20 cars didn't make the finish.

The top ten was completed by Graham Featherstone, Lee Robson, Marcus van Klink, Kingsley Jones, Max Bayley, Sloan Cox and Jason Clark

Bayley won the FIA two-wheel drive class, while Dave Strong overcame problems to take victory in Open two-wheel drive. van Klink continued his domination of the Historic class, leading home John Silcock's similar Mazda.

Victory in the Gull Rally Challenge also saw Lee Robson take out the Gull Rally Scholarship, leading home Kingsley Jones and Jason Clark. Greg Murphy took out the two-wheel drive Rally Challenge.

Despite leaving the road, Holder still holds the championship lead, now six points ahead of Gilmour. Hayden Paddon still holds third place despite not contesting the event, while Marcus van Klink and Andrew Hawkeswood round out the top five.

The next round of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship takes place in Gisborne on July 2.

- NZ Herald

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