Gilmour reserve for Extreme E series

Not content with being a trailblazer leading the charge for New Zealand women in motorsport, Dunedin's Emma Gilmour has been selected to drive in an exciting new competition.

She has been named as a reserve driver in the Veloce Racing team in the Extreme E Championship, which is set to start next month and sweep round the world during the year.

The 41-year-old will be tucked in behind British driver Jamie Chadwick as the reserve female driver and is a real chance to get a drive.

She will have to juggle her role in the new championship with her participation in the New Zealand Rally Championship, which kicks off next month with Rally Otago.

If called up to race, she will be going into the car cold, with minimal practice driving in a vehicle vastly different from her usual race car.

Dunedin rally driver Emma Gilmour. Photos: Supplied
Dunedin rally driver Emma Gilmour. Photos: Supplied

"I was contacted last year by a couple of teams looking for a female driver, and I've been called upon by [the] Veloce team to be a reserve driver.

"They've been one of the really organised teams from day one," Gilmour said.

The team's leadership line-up is spearheaded by Formula 1 designer Adrian Newey, and Formula E Champion and ex-Formula 1 driver, Jean-Eric Vergne.

Other big names in the championship include Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton, who owns a team, and Andretti Motorsport is also part-owner of a team.

Gilmour was honoured to be a reserve driver.

"I always need to be match-fit. It's an unusual series, because the cars are basically on the boat being transported to the first round at the moment.

The vehicle she will drive in the Extreme E Championship.
The vehicle she will drive in the Extreme E Championship.

"From that round they'll be on the boat again for the next round, so there's not a lot of testing or opportunity to test the cars, so if and when I do get the call up, it'll be straight into the hot seat."

Extreme E is a new motorsport championship in which electric SUVs go head-to-head in areas of the world which have been damaged by climate change or environmental issues.

The vehicles driven in the championship are the Spark Odyssey 21 electric SUV.

The vehicle is manufactured by Spark Racing Technology, the constructor of the Formula E cars, and the battery is produced by Williams Advanced Engineering.

The car is fitted with a niobium-reinforced steel alloy tubular frame. It weighs 1650kg and is capable of 0-100kmh in 4.5sec, with 400kW (540hp) of power.

The Odyssey 21 was a special entry in the final stage of the Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia in January this year and finished with the third-fastest time in the car category.

The opening round of the Extreme E series is in Saudi Arabia on April 3-4, followed by a race in Senegal (May 29-30), Greenland (August 28-29), Brazil (October 23-24) and finishing in Argentina on December 11-12.

Covid-19 may affect the event and border restrictions so the rest of the year and where she may end up is unknown.

Gilmour though is keen to get among it, but first she will aim to do well in Rally Otago which is set for April 16-18.

"It all got called off a year ago as we were going into Covid lockdown, and the Otago Rally didn't go ahead sadly, so pretty excited for the Otago Rally to go ahead."

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