Leading New Zealand Rally Championship contender Emma Gilmour will line-up for the Battle of Jacks Ridge in November with her Suzuki.
The NZRC event winner will make the trek north from her Dunedin base to take part in the City of Auckland Rally on November 14 before tackling the purpose-built Jacks Ridge stage a day later along with a stellar field where she should be right in the mix.
Former national champion Andrew Hawkeswood constructed the world class stage on his property in Whitford with the World Rally Championship returning with Rally New Zealand in 2020. The stage was going to be a focal point of that event in September but the COVID-19 outbreak forced its cancellation.
When the Battle of Jacks Ridge was announced, Gilmour immediately knew she had to be part of it.
“Andrew took me for a drive around it when it was still in the finishing stages when they were working towards having it done for Rally New Zealand and it just blew me away,” she said.
“I sort of thought it was a rally sprint track in someone’s back yard but it is amazing. It is a quarter of a rally stage. It has everything in it and a lot of thought has gone into it.
“The elevation changes and the jumps and the blind brows – I think it is going to be a wonderful spectacle.
Gilmour has competed in WRC events when they stopped in New Zealand previously and has high expectations that the Battle of Jacks Ridge will be run with that kind of feel to it.
“I think it is pretty exciting to have an event that is going to have the feeling of a bigger international event yet being local,” she said.
“After such an unusual year I think it is going to be great to compete and hopefully have a big crowd there.
“It reminds you of what the WRC would have been or what it has been in the past.”
Gilmour has endured a torrid run over the past couple of seasons as mechanical failures have plagued her Suzuki but a stack of work has been put in during the past few months and she hopes to showcase her speed and be battling at the pointy end of the field.
“I dug deep – it is still what I love to do and I knew I still have the potential so I drew on all my reserves of resilience and invested in the car,” Gilmour explained. “We have upgraded the engine package, and we were ready to go for this season.
“Obviously COVID has happened so we have basically parked it up ready to rally.”
The Battle of Jacks Ridge will be broadcast live on Sky Sport and will see the best drivers in the country taking part in a knock-out style format.
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