Australian rally driver Molly Taylor remains on track to become the first European Ladies Champion after gathering maximum points in Sibiu Rally Romania.
Taylor and her British co-driver Seb Marshall had a challenging weekend in the event which is well-known as a car breaker. Based around the beautiful city of Sibiu, 215km north-west of the Romanian capital of Bucharest, the rough and dusty roads and high temperatures made the weekend very tough out on the forest stages.
So demanding were the conditions that at the end of the first leg, Seb Marshall reported that the forest looked more like a car park – “with damaged cars littered everywhere”.
Early on Day One, Molly and Seb were wondering if they might be joining the retirement list after the steering rack failed on their United Business/BP Racing Citroën DS3 R3T.
That meant Molly drove for 20kms without power steering on a difficult, narrow and rough stage. The pair lost five minutes on the stage but were happy to make it back to service to have the rack repaired, after Molly had fought the car all the way.
“I had serious arm pump driving through that stage, it was probably the toughest thing I have ever done, and in very hot and dusty conditions, too. On some stages vision was really difficult too – it was like driving in fog and we had to take extra care to drive around the rocks. They were being pulled out onto the road by the cars ahead of us.”
There was another drama for the duo near the end of the event when they had a puncture and had to stop to change the tyre, costing them even more precious time.
Still, the crew focused on making it to the finish, their clear goal being to drive as cleanly and consistently as possible to gain maximum points for Molly’s tilt at the inaugural Ladies’ title. After this past weekend she is second in the tally, just one point away from leading the chase with four more events still to run.
“It was a really tough event, particularly when we lost the power steering,” Molly says.
“We had to work very hard over the weekend but I wasn’t going to let it beat me. A big thanks to the guys at BP Racing – they put the car back together at every service and kept us in the event.”
With several years of experience at international level rallying, Seb has experienced some tough events and totally agreed with his driver’s assessment of the gruelling test they came through.
“It was one of the hardest rallies I’ve ever done, rivalling Cyprus 2010 for physical and mental challenge. The stages were so rough. The car took a beating but the guys at BP Racing did a super job as always and Molly remained cool under massive pressure to get to the finish.”
Taylor and Marshall are tackling eight rounds of the European Rally Championship, with second in class (2WD) in Corsica and a stage win the highlight of the year so far.
Next event is the Barum Czech Rally (Czech Republic, August 30-September 1), Croatia Rally (September 26-28), Rallye San Remo (Italy, October 10-12), and Rallye International du Valais (Switzerland, November 6-9). All the events are covered by Eurosport.
Taylor and Marshall will miss an event in Poland when they compete with a privateer Ford team in the Australian world championship round at Coffs Harbour (September 13-15).
The ERC entry list includes drivers such as former F1 star Robert Kubica as well as WRC regulars like Francois Delecour, Jan Kopecky and Freddy Loix.