Dealer offered middle east rally opportunity

Dealer offered middle east rally opportunity

Photo credit : Alan Dove

Photo credit : Alan Dove

Dunedin rally driver – and Suzuki dealer – Emma Gilmour has been offered a place at a desert racing training camp in Qatar.

In November, she will be exchanging New Zealand’s gravel roads for Qatar’s sandy dunes after being chosen out of 85 applicants from 39 countries, to participate in the joint FIA Women in Motorsport and Qatar Motor and Motorcycling Federation (QMMF) cross country rally project.

Gilmour is one of 18 women – nine drivers and nine co-drivers – and the only Kiwi female to make the cut.

“This is such an incredible chance to learn more about racing in the desert and I feel really honoured to be picked, with so many other women applying,” she says.

Before she embarked on a decade of rally driving, both in New Zealand and around the Asia Pacific region, Emma (35) rode trail motorbikes, so the adventurous nature of cross country racing appealed.

“It is something that has always interested me. For a long time I have thought that doing an event like the Dakar Rally would be awesome,” Emma says.

She will take part in a five-day training and assessment programme in Qatar, where one driver and one co-driver will ultimately be chosen to team up and participate in the 2016 Sealine Cross Country Rally in April 2016, courtesy of QMMF.

President of the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission and legendary, former WRC rally driver Michele Mouton, who was joined on the assessment committee by Jutta Kleinschmidt and Fabrizia Pons said they were impressed by the calibre of applicants, which made the initial selection process very difficult.

“Our ASNs (National Sport Authorities) really got behind this project and it has demonstrated there are a lot of women out there who want to come and try a different discipline,” Mouton says.

The desert training camp, between November 2 and 7, will be led by two of the sport’s finest female competitors – Jutta Kleinschmidt, the first and only woman to win the Dakar Rally, and multiple rally and cross country winning co-driver Fabrizia Pons. Both women will guide the candidates through the intense training and development programme encompassing all the essential techniques required for this motorsport discipline.

Glimmer says she doesn’t know exactly what cars they will be driving, but is expecting them to be “four-wheel-drive desert vehicles of some sort,” she says.

Although the cost of the training camp is covered, Emma is paying her own way to get there.

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