Gilmour’s race pace fits Covid timetable

Rally driver Emma Gilmour has returned to Dunedin after a six-month racing stint overseas. PHOTO:...
Rally driver Emma Gilmour has returned to Dunedin after a six-month racing stint overseas. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
Emma Gilmour is back selling cars at her Dunedin dealership.

But not for long.

The 42-year-old rally driver will head to Saudi Arabia next month to compete in the Extreme E series.

She has signed for McLaren and is very much looking forward to the opportunity.

Gilmour was a reserve driver for the Veloce Racing team in 2021 and got a couple of drives.

She raced in the Arctic X Prix in Greenland in late August and in the Island X Prix in Italy in late October.

Her team-mate "hit the rocks in Greenland and rolled it in Sardinia," she chuckled.

So, was it worth it?

The challenges of securing a managed isolation and quarantine spot in New Zealand meant she ended up spending five months away and got limited time in the driver’s seat.

She arrived back in the country on Christmas Day and had a 10-day stay in MIQ before arriving home in Dunedin on January 5.

It was a long time to be away for a relatively brief stint behind the wheel.

"It wasn’t my intention to be away for so long," she said.

"But I did take the opportunity to race. I hired a rental rally car and did a rally in North Wales.

"That was really cool and I did that with my friend [Claire Mole] who I’d met through co-driving and that was who I was staying with while I was over there.

"It is just such a hard time to be travelling, so that is the difficulty. But the opportunities that come about with McLaren ... it was really worthwhile."

With new variants of Covid-19 emerging periodically, travelling will not get much easier any time soon.

Gilmour will leave for Saudi Arabia early next month uncertain of when she will be able to return.

The series gets under way on February 19 and the next race is not until May.

"In normal times, I would get on a plane and come home because the Otago Rally is in April, and I’d like to do that and do some testing before it.

"But I don’t know if I’ll get an MIQ spot, so it is really hard to plan.

"I feel homesick and I haven’t even left yet.

"But this opportunity is what I’ve worked many, many years for.

"The business is in good hands when I’m not here and that allows me to chase my dream.

"It is a pretty special event to be part of in terms of who you are racing against.

She "rubs shoulders" with drivers like Carlos Sainz and Sebastien Loeb who have won multiple World Rally Championship titles.

The final race of the five-race series is in Uruguay in November, so it is a long season.

The reason there is a big gap between each race is the vehicles are transported by boat. The philosophy of the series is to leave a neutral footprint and draw attention to environmental issues.

"We all know about climate change but, in many ways, it is too big a thing that you don’t know what little things you can do to make a difference."

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