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BLOG - Wednesday 23rd July 2014

Its been a very busy month since the last time I wrote my blog. 

I had a whirlwind trip to Washington DC which was awesome. We didn't have a very successful race weekend but getting to see the sights, albeit quickly, was really good. 

I then came home and had a frustrating weekend at the Rally of Wairarapa. Within 200m of the stage two start I ran up the inside of the bank and flipped MMMMMS over onto her roof. It was really slow speed but I was so annoyed. I had stayed on the gas trying not to spin a lot longer than I normally would as I wasn't able to select reverse gear in our gearbox and I knew if we spun we'd be stuck.  Which we did become anyway - I'd rather we'd stayed stuck on our wheels not our roof!! 

I then had a busy couple of weeks at work. I'm really lucky that I have a great team at the dealership for when I am away racing but it doesn't mean that I don't worry about it and stress quite a lot when I am away, so it was good to spend some time in the office.

Prior to the New York GRC round we were able to test. This was a huge step forward for me and my engineer Barny as we have had such little time to get to know each other and the car prior to each of the previous rounds. We had a good test and we found quite a few things with the car which we were able to improve and change prior to the round. 

It made a big difference in the weekend as I was a lot more comfortable with the car. I can't emphasise enough how much this matters as the car is a bit of a beast with 600HP  and lots of torque that if we're not in sync its like riding a bolting horse - which is not really riding - more going along for the ride!! :-) 

It showed in our qualifying times with us being only 0.04 off my team mate and boss Rhys Millen in the same car which is a huge improvement from where we were. 

It made a huge difference come race time as I was  able to be in the mix with the other drivers and I got to have my first taste of wheel to wheel contact.

It was actually quite funny as I am used to cringing when my rally car makes contact with something - be it a bank, a fencepost or a ditch when I end up off road. So I cringed as I made my first contact with other cars, but then realised there was no need as the fibreglass doors & bumpers don't 'crunch' they kind of pop in and pop out. :-) I say this light heartedly as I am sure there is a point when things will crunch!!!

Now that I have more pace to mix it with the other drivers I now need to learn other new skills with passing and when to use the joker lap which will be the new part of the learning curve.  But it was just so much fun - it really is like a video game. So intense and exciting. 

This weekend in Charlotte will be tough again as all of my competitors raced on this track last year so Rhys and I will both be starting from scratch with setup. It is also the first event this year that is almost all dirt so I should feel a bit more at home although slick tyres on dirt with 600HP isn't always that easy!!  I can't wait to drive on Friday. :-)

Emma 

BLOG - Sunday 15th June 2014

Competing in my first ever X-Games last weekend was one of the coolest things I've ever taken part in. The X-Games village at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin Texas was so well done and so big that all of the pictures I took just didn't seem to do it justice.  

It was awesome to make the semi final at X-Games but I still have a long way to go in getting the car setup as I like it and finding some more speed. It was still good to come out of the event with the car unscathed considering the carnage that happened and I was getting faster and learning more about the car each time we went out. 

It will be good to get back in the car again next weekend in Washington, DC. I'm hoping I will get to have a quick look around the city when I arrive on Thursday before the racing on Saturday & Sunday as it is a very quick trip for me - leaving NZ on Wednesday night and getting back on Tuesday morning. 

This weekend has been nice and relaxing catching up with friends and family, and it was great to watch the All Blacks beat England last night in our local stadium. 

Prep on MMMMMS is also going well and I'm looking forward to having a fast clean run at Wairarapa in a fortnight. 

I have just added a new media page to the website with youtube videos and links to news stories. 
Have a great week.
Emms 


BLOG - Thursday 29th May 2014

It's now been a week since I returned from the first round of the Global Rally Cross series in Barbados.  Heading to work in snow on Monday definitely bought me back to reality and it is hard to remember the hot sweaty confines of my Hyundai Veloster office last weekend. 

I left Dunedin the day after the otago rally.  it was such a shame that we had a DNF at Otago due to the camshaft as it would have been so great to finish 2nd at our home event. And it would have been a nice feeling getting on the plane with a trophy in the cabinet instead of leaving the team with a busy couple of weeks ahead rebuilding a new engine. 

Once I landed in LA we had a test at Willow Springs in Tyler Bensons lites car. It was good practice for getting back in  LHD and onto the Tarmac. After the test we than flew straight to Barbados arriving the following afternoon. 

The next day we got to have a look at the track and I  got to sit in my car for the first time. Although I did a few laps in Rhys's car in March I hadn't driven my car at all until first practice on Friday morning.  Nothing like jumping in the deep end. :-)

It ended up being a good first event for me to come to grips with the car and racing. The track was quite open and fast so there wasn't a lot of traffic after the initial start. I kept improving each time I went out and I'm really looking forward to the next event in Texas now that I have had a bit of mileage in my car. Hopefully the team will have a smoother run and I can keep improving my skills. 

This afternoon I will drive up to Christchurch to meet Ben off the plane from Australia. I think he's going to get a bit of a shock when he experiences our Winter weather! We have recce tomorrow and Saturday for the Canterbury Rally this weekend. And we start on Saturday evening with 2 night stages in the Forest. We then have a full day of rallying up North of Christchurch - I'm really looking forward to driving on some new roads again. 

I would like to say a big Thank You to Graeme Eaton from E&S Head Systems in Dunedin. He has been so helpful to Lindsay and the team with getting the engine rebuilt in time for this weekend. Fingers crossed we can have a good result to repay everyones efforts. 

BLOG - Thursday 8th May 2014

Whoops - I realised this morning that I hadn't updated this blog since Easter. 

Ben and I have just completed the first third of recce for the Otago Rally. The roads are looking fantastic with not a lot of gravel and although there is a bit of standing water in spots I don't think it will bother us too much.

Yesterday we had a pre event test with the new sequential gearbox we have leased for the remainder of the season. It was so cool! The gearbox makes it so easy to change gears and it makes it a lot easier to keep MMMMMS on power through corners. I can't wait for the rally. 

Ben and I are about to start checking notes on the laptop from the stages we wrote today and then we have another 9hrs in the car tomorrow with the recce convoy before a busy night checking notes again. 

Lindsay and Lane are currently down at the workshop doing some more fine tuning. They had a great discovery today - which fingers crossed - will mean good things for the weekend.

On Monday after Otago I will fly out to Barbados for the first round of the Global Rally Cross series - I can't wait!!

Till next time.


 

BLOG - Friday 18th April 2014

Happy Easter Everyone!!  I hope everyone is having a nice time with their friends and family and eating lots of chocolate. :-) 


I am having a very quiet Easter catching up on everything and getting organised before Otago Rally and my very busy GRC season kicks off. 
 

Many people are surprised by how happy I am with my weekend last weekend Rally in Whangarei. On the time sheets it certainly doesn't look impressive but I know that we took away a lot of positives from the Weekend. MMMMMS the mighty Suzuki Swift Maxi performed really well and aside from some unfortunate incidents with boost hoses, broken gear stick and a frustrated driver in dust giving us two flat tyres we had some top 3 stage times and won several splits. 


There are definitely some areas for us to still work on but considering the limited off season testing and mileage we have done the car performed really well. We have some changes lined up for the next event and I can't wait to get out there again in 3 weeks time.


It was great working with Ben again and I was so impressed with his super cool attitude when things weren't going as planned during the event. It's nice having a calming influence inside the car when I'm starting to get frustrated. 


We had some excellent media coverage before and after the event and we received lots of positive feedback from people out on the stages.  


I can't wait for my home event. With over 50% of brand new stages it is going to make it a real challenge.

BLOG - Sunday 30th March 2014

Wow – what a week!  I am so excited and relieved to finally be able to talk about my Global Rally Cross drive with Rhys Millen racing in America. It has been a long couple of months sitting on the most exciting news to happen in my racing career and not being able to share it with anyone. 

When Rhys called me late in December I really couldn’t believe what I was hearing – it was the best early Christmas present I could have received – my dream of wanting to race in America becoming a reality.  

I shared the exciting news with my close friends and family, and also my group of long term loyal sponsors as the opportunity would never have been possible without their support throughout my career. 

It was reassuring to have all of my sponsors ongoing support for our NZ Championship campaign and makes me even more excited about the season ahead.

Likewise with the business I now own outright in Dunedin - Gilmour Suzuki. It is reassuring to have a good team around me within the business to ensure that things will continue to run smoothly when I am travelling back and forth from America.

No doubt my stress levels could run a little high this year when I am trying to juggle everything but I am truly excited about the year ahead and can't wait to keep everyone updated back home. 

Its only two weeks until Rally Whangarei now and it looks like this years Championship is going to be a good one with strong entries. I'm looking forward to catching up with Ben and doing our Shakedown together pre Whangarei and then checking out the new stages on recce north of Whangarei. 



BLOG - Sunday 23rd March 2014

The last couple of weeks I have been talking about how important my team is that helps us to go rallying.

So along with a great team on the car I also rely on a great team behind the scenes. Along with my sponsors I have also been lucky enough to have the services of David Thomson doing my press releases for the last ten years. 

David has done a great job of writing press releases before and after every event for me since I very first started, which has been a great help in raising my profile throughout the NZ Media. 

David is a very busy family man – juggling a very busy full time job at the University, motoring journalist / editor for the Otago Daily Times, and busy parent with Margaret, supporting their son Alex who is very busy with Surf Life Saving and soccer. I'm so thankful for him being able to juggle my media this long! 

Due to how busy David is this year I will have a new Media Manager – Cat Pattison from Wanaka. I’m really looking forward to working with Cat and continuing to raise our profile here in NZ. To add yourself to our media list please email us at emmaracingmedia@hotmail.com 

BLOG - Sunday 16th March 2014

Still talking about my testing…. Part of what it made so stress free and enjoyable was the great job that Lindsay Tressler had done in preparing the car for the weekend. 

Motorsport is a huge team sport. Yes, the driver will make the biggest difference on whether you are near the front or near the rear of the field. But if you don’t have a good team around you that enables you to have a great car it is almost impossible to show your true potential as a driver.  

When I first started driving I thought that sheer talent would get you first place – how wrong was I?!!  At the top level of our sport – everyone is very talented and skilled.  The difference in that last bit of speed is generally in the driver and teams ability to get the most out of the car and the cars setup.

Along with Lindsay’s help in making the test a success was the input from Lane Heenan from Racetorque in Perth.  Lane has been a big influence on my driving in the last 3 years as he has helped with engineering the last Subaru (which is still run successfully in the hands of Ben Hunt) and this Suzuki. 

Having an engineer that believes in the feedback I give has made such a big difference in my driving. Often I used  to drive around a problem with a cars setup thinking that the problem was me – rather than looking at changing something on the car that would fix the problem.

Lane sat with me in the Suzuki at the test which was the first time that we had tested together with him as the codriver. I couldn’t believe how much this sped up the testing process as we would discuss after each run what I felt and he generally always agreed so we kept making changes without having to do endless amount of runs.

Naturally we will find out on the first stage at Whangarei how good our testing was – but regardless of the outcome – I know I’m going to really enjoy driving the Swift Maxi 1600 to the limit this season! J


BLOG - Saturday 8th March 2014

It isn't long now until the first round of the NZ Championship in Whangarei. We had a really good test a fortnight ago and I was happy to be driving the Suzuki Swift Maxi 1600 again.

It can be dangerous to get too confident after a pre-season test because every team is always making improvements over the off-season.  You should never think that you’ve made massive gains because realistically – its possible that so has everyone else!

The thing that I was most happy about after our test was that I really enjoyed myself. We had a stress free weekend with no major issues and the car was really fun to drive. I wish I could drive it every weekend!!

This last week we also announced our plans for the season and the news that Ben Atkinson from Australia is going to be my codriver. I'm really looking forward to working with Ben again as we have worked really well together in the past. 

Here is a link to our press release HERE 


BLOG - Saturday 1st March 2014

Last weekend we had our pre season test in preparation for the 2014 NZ Rally Championship. After several months out of the car it was great to get back in to MMMMMS and skid some gravel. 

Lindsay & Lane had done a great job in organising the test and getting the mighty Suzuki ready with a brand new setup.  We made some really good changes over the course of the weekend and I can't wait for Whangarei in 6 weeks time. 

I have posted some pics and videos on my Facebook page HERE 





























BLOG - Tuesday 11th February 2014
Last night MMMMMS, Lindsay and I went and did our pre season promo photo shoot with Alan Dove. 

I always love doing photo shoots with Alan and was most impressed the first time I met him back in 2005 when we did our first photo shoot together. He has an amazing eye for detail and getting the angles of his 'models' just right so that the photos always look super flattering. He also did the wedding photography for my sister Monica and her husband Nathan and the photos he took really captured them and the beauty of the day. So if you are in the Dunedin area and need a star photographer for family portraits, weddings or rally car posters :-) Check him out HERE