Gilmour organising tour for rally spectators

By Catherine Pattison on Sat, 4 Mar 2017 | Motorsport | Rally
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Spectators enjoy some sideways action from Dunedin rally driver Emma Gilmour at the Rally of Otago last year. PHOTO: Geoff Ridder

Always wanted to watch a rally live, rather than on television, but don't know where to start? Dunedin rally driver Emma Gilmour may just have the solution for you.

In a new venture, she is gauging interest for a rally tour to follow the Rally of Otago on April 8 and 9.

She is looking at either one-day or two-day options, priced around $200-$300, that would include professional transport to and from the stages, an experienced rally host, lunch, snacks and her team polo shirt.

While most avid rally followers were happy to pore over spectator maps and hunt out the best viewing stages, there were other fans who would not know where to start when it came to rally watching and might find it a daunting prospect, Gilmour said.

‘‘I'm not doing it for profit but more because it's my local rally and so many people are supportive of what I do with motorsport.

‘‘It might be for someone who has never watched a rally before or had the means to get around a rally.''

She has contacted Rally Tours NZ, which operates international marathon rally tours plus spectator tours for World Rally Championship rallies such as Australia, Argentina and Finland, and also provides trips to the Targa and the Silver Fern rallies in New Zealand.

Otago Rally spokesman Roger Oakley said an organised tour was ‘‘an excellent way to see the best spots with no stress''.

‘‘You don't have to figure out where to be and when. And you don't have to worry about whether you are in a really good spot or an average one.''

Oakley said many of the rally's Australian visitors chose to join a tour for the event and they enjoyed having a safe mode of transport around the region's gravel back roads and a host for the two days.

‘‘A tour gives you all the gossip, all the things about the drivers and teams. The host knows the stories so you don't go just to see the cars,'' he said.

Gilmour has about half the number needed to fill a van and will need to finalise participants in coming weeks.

She envisaged having a central meeting point in Dunedin and then the driver/host would take the rally followers out to the stages and also to the service park to see the teams in action, before bringing the tour vehicle back to town at the end of the day. The Dunedin-based rally will once again be the New Zealand Rally Championship's opening round and will incorporate the International Otago Classic Rally, plus a separate Allcomers event.

After a pre-event ceremonial start in Dunedin's Octagon on Friday, April 7, the route will take drivers over 14 special stages on Saturday and Sunday, with a competitive distance of nearly 285km.