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Gilmour secures solid fifth place at Southern Lights

A solid drive at the Southern Lights Rally has seen Dunedin’s Emma Gilmour finish fifth after the two-day Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship’s (NZRC) third round.

Her recently recruited Australian co-driver Ben Searcy was given a Southern Lights baptism of fire as the teams went straight into the 11.4km Pebbly Hills forestry stage on Friday night. The following early morning monster 45.9km Benmore stage was also run in the dark.

“Ben did an awesome job jumping into my Vantage Windows & Doors WRC2 C3 rally car at short notice, especially coming straight into night stages, which is never easy,” Emma says.

“I hadn’t driven in a night rally for a very long time, so it was a great challenge. It brought back a fun element to the rally and certainly made it an adventure! It was a cool contrast to do one in the pure dark on Friday night and the other one at dawn on Saturday morning.”

Emma and Ben settled into their rhythm over the day and consistently recorded times in the top six positions for nine of the ten stages, and twice scored fourth fastest stage times.

Emma describes it as a “really solid event.”

“Everything went well for us. It was a case of rebuilding confidence and becoming reacquainted with Ben in the car, as we last teamed up in 2019. We had some really good pace and the C3 ran well.

“Ollie and the Paddon Rallysport team did a great job. The roads were heaps of fun and the event was well organised.”

Emma’s fifth place over Southland’s flowing gravel roads puts her fifth overall in the NZRC, just one point behind event winner Hayden Paddon.

The championship returns after the winter break for the fourth round in mid-September with the Daybreaker Rally based out of the Manawatu.

Emma Gilmour thanks the following sponsors for their support: Vantage Windows & Doors, Gilmour Motors Suzuki, Dura-Seal, Dayle ITM, MITO, Suzuki New Zealand, Castrol NZ, Sparco, Allport Motorsports, Custom Signs, NGK, Webdesign, Pure Sports Nutrition and Body Synergy Gym.

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