Dunedin driver Emma Gilmour is clear about her ambitions in her 14th Otago Rally, which starts in Dunedin tomorrow.
“We really want to win.”
Victory would be one step up from her best placing of second, in 2007.
Attention to detail would separate winners from the rest of the field, Gilmour said.
Rally driving is highly detailed.
One example is the pace notes, the notes which Gilmour writes outlining the course and how she thinks it should be driven. Co-driver Anthony McLoughlin will read the notes to her as she navigates the course at speed during each of the rally’s 14 stages.
Gilmour uses a system of ranking sections of the course from one to eight, with one being a hairpin corner and eight a straight line.
The notes determined the way Gilmour drove each part of the course, she said.
“When I hear that, I can sort of imagine what the road’s looking like and what speed I’d be doing it at.”
It is her third full season with co-driver McLoughlin, who is from Australia.
Gilmour said co-drivers and drivers had complementary skill sets.
“I don’t know how he does it but we sort of have the same conversation. He doesn’t understand how I can do what I do either, so we sort of have a mutual appreciation of each other’s skill set.”
While Gilmour has been racing in rallies since 2003, it was another mode of transport that first stoked her love for speed as a youngster.
“I’d done horse riding when I was younger and I loved going fast on horses.”
She had a go at driving cars on gravel and then she became “hooked” with motorsport, she said.
Past national champions such as David Holder and Ben Hunt would pose stiff challenges this weekend but overall it was a very competitive field, Gilmour said.
“There’s probably anyone within the top 10 on a good day [who] has a chance of being an outright contender.”
There would be one constant for all rally drivers no matter how they fared, Gilmour said.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re at the front of the field or at the back of the field, you’ll have fun.”