World Champion Cyclist Shifts Up A Gear
19 October 2004
World Champion Cyclist Shifts Up A Gear In A Suzuki For The Dunlop Targa Rally
World champion track cyclist Greg Henderson will be experiencing a change in pace as co-driver during the first half of the 2004 Dunlop Targa rally. For the initial stages, he will be assisting fellow Dunedinite, and rally driver, Emma Gilmour, in her assault on this year’s rally in the Suzuki New Zealand supplied Ignis Sport.
The 28-year-old Henderson holds 17 New Zealand national track and road titles in cycling, has seven World Cup track gold medals and was a New Zealand Olympian in 1996, 2000 and 2004.
He was New Zealand Track Cyclist of the Year in 2001, 2002, 2003 and again this year, and has been “Athlete of the Year” in Otago for the past four years.
Henderson began racing bikes at the tender age of 5 and won his first national title at 15. He bettered the silver medal he won at the 2002 world championships this year by taking gold in the Scratch race at the World Chamionships in Melbourne.
In the rally, Greg will have hands-on experience of the high-speed world of motor sport and a close-up view of one of the country's most promising young rally drivers.
Emma Gilmour has recently completed the New Zealand Rally Championship finishing eighth overall in Group N.
Emma and Greg will take the wheel of a 1.5 litre Suzuki Ignis Sport in the annual Dunlop Targa, which starts in Auckland on October 24 and finishes in Wellington on October 30.
Apart from the fitment of a roll cage in the cabin and other safety-related equipment, the Suzuki Ignis Sport used in the event is essentially identical to the model available off the Suzuki showroom floor.
Outside of Henderson, Emma’s team is very much a family affair. Not only will the promising 24-year-old have the backing of her father Alistair, but also her navigator for the second half of the seven-day event will be her mother, Carola.
Her father has been preparing her rally cars and acts as chief mechanic during the events.
But he is likely to have a relatively easy time on the rally with Suzuki New Zealand’s Ignis Sport. Mechanical, reliability is not expected to be an issue, especially given the remarkable stamina of the Suzuki Ignis in this year's Junior World Rally Championship.
Carola will take over as navigator when Henderson leaves to prepare for November’s cycling Tour of Southland.
While the Dunlop Targa marks the first time Carola has driven competitively with her daughter, she is far from being a newcomer to the rally scene.
She has competed in the rally on three occasions in 2000, 2001 and 2002, each time with her husband in a Porsche 911.
In 2002, Alistair and Carola finished eleventh overall and third in the classic car section.
Carola also took part in a gravel rally with Emma's older sister, Monica, and when she isn't in the hot seat she works in the family's car dealership.
There's been a long-time family involvement in rallying for the Gilmours, and the tempo has quickened with Emma's successful involvement in national rallying. Alistair co-drove with Emma for her rally debut just two years ago in the Targa Bambina. This year's Dunlop Targa rally will mark her first rally drive in a Suzuki.