Australian rally driver Molly Taylor has finished fifth outright after a challenging final round of the WRC Academy.
Run in rain, mud, sleet and heavy fog, Wales Rally GB (November 10-13) was the grand final for this year’s World Rally Championship series, and for the six-round, junior driver development series that has been run this year as a sub-category.
During the weekend Molly and British co-driver Seb Marshall posted their first ever stage win of the WRC Academy series, and a number of top five stage times. The young Sydneysider says she’s very happy with the result – but worn out!
“It was great to see how much we have improved, in terms of our times – it’s really good for my confidence. I was surprised when we won the stage because I didn’t think we were going that fast. It was incredibly foggy and we had been slowed down by two other competitors that we caught and passed on the way through.
“Obviously a podium would have been great and it would be easy to say ‘what if’, but I wouldn’t be the only one saying that! We had a couple of punctures and one of those was a situation where the jack wouldn’t let the car down and we lost nearly four minutes.
“The other was a slow puncture early in a stage, and we lost about 40 seconds because we drove through the stage with the tyre going down. So, yes, if that hadn’t happened, we might have had a podium, but that’s all part and parcel of the sport. I’m just really pleased with this event because it shows how far we have come.”
Molly is now planning ahead for 2012, with the aim of a repeat run at the WRC Academy series, and selected events in Britain and Europe, but first she has to find the funding.
“I have a couple of meetings lined up already, and my mission for the next month is to talk to as many people as I can, to try to find a budget for next year.
“This year has been an incredible experience. It was a matter of jumping in at the deep end and trying to find our feet. Obviously, if I look back, I can see things that I could have done better, but now we have a handle on what needs to be done and how to do it, so we need to work on how we move on from here.
“I’d like to thank Pirelli and M-Sport and the FIA for an amazing year – it has just been fantastic – and to all my supporters, for all your help and messages of encouragement. Hopefully this is just another step along the way of where we want to go.”
To celebrate her result, Molly ate some junk food and – she estimates – nearly a kilo of chocolate! Now she’s focussed on finding funding for next year, and coming home to spend Christmas with family and friends.
The WRC Academy is a one-make, development series aimed at bringing the best young rally talent in the world to elite levels. Molly and co-driver Seb Marshall and their Academy rivals drove identical Ford Fiesta R2s prepared by Ford’s WRC specialists, M-Sport, with tyres provided by Pirelli. The inaugural WRC Academy championship was won by Irish driver, Craig Breen.
Molly was one of six of the drivers on a fully funded scholarship for 2011, covering all her WRC expenses. That scholarship funding is now finished. More information about Molly and Seb is available on Molly’s website: http://www.mollytaylor.com.au.