Category Archives: European Rallying News

Molly Taylor to miss WRC Rally Australia to contest ERC Rally Poland

Australian rally driver Molly Taylor will contest Rally Poland next week, the ninth round of the European Rally Championship, rather than Rally Australia as she had originally planned.

The decision was made by her management team, United Business, to strengthen her position now she is leading the inaugural European Ladies’ Trophy, as well as to increase her experience on a wide range of European events.

In their most recent event, Barum Rally Zlin in the Czech Republic (30 August – 1 September), the young Sydneysider and her British co-driver Seb Marshall were safely in front of the other female crews, a result they reached at the end of a fast but cautious performance with a clear eye on the championship standings.

Now their attention turns to the challenging Rally Poland, now in its 70th year. It’s a gravel event held in Mikolajki, a town in the lake district of north-eastern Poland, from September 13-15. Taylor and Marshall will tackle the event in the Citroën DS3 R3, the car with which they have already contested five rounds of the 2013 European Championship.

Barum Rally, Zlin 30-08 / 1-9 2013

“I’m happy to be able to race in Poland because it is an opportunity to increase my experience and because I hear the rally is really fascinating. I’ll have some challenging opponents and I hear the local rally fans make every moment of the event very special,” Molly says. “On the other hand, obviously I am so sorry not to be in Rally Australia. It is my home event and in my heart I really wanted to be there, but after discussing it carefully with Seb and my manager Pier Liberali we decided to give up Australia and to be in Poland. The goals we have for the European Rally Championship and the chance to win the inaugural Ladies Trophy have to come before sentiment. Again, we are facing a completely new rally. That doesn’t scare me. As usual, Seb and I will try to give it our best.”

Taylor’s manager, Pier Liberali, says while he realised how much competing in Australia meant to the young driver, he had been thinking about the program change for some time. “When I explained my reasons to Molly and Seb, their great professionalism meant they understood and shared them. I had no doubt they would because they are proving to be two great professionals. Having done less rallies than her opponents and also because of two unlucky events, until now I had to ask Molly to limit her desire to go flat out. Looking at our hopes of winning the Trophy, it was essential to be at the finish of the races. She’s done that three times now and has always beaten her rivals with relative ease. Now that leadership in the Ladies Trophy has been reached, I think it is fair that our crew has the go-ahead in Rally Poland to fulfill their desire to attack. Both in Sibiu (Romania) and in Zlin I saw Molly and Seb’s frustration. It is never nice to ask a driver to go slowly and finish the race, but I had to do so and with great professionalism they listened to my recommendations. In Poland they will run as they deem it best and I am hopeful that this year’s races have taught them to manage a rally. I always say that to win trophies and championships you have to get to the end of each rally.”

Four of the special stages in Rally Poland will be shown live on Eurosport. They will be the two runs through the 19.14km Mragowo stage and the two on the 23.77km Mateuszek stage, which will also be the closing stage of the event. Australian fans with access to Eurosport should check the program for the weekend of the event.

Barum Rally, Zlin 30-08 / 1-9 2013

Taylor, now 25, moved to Italy early this year in order to work more effectively with United Business and BP Racing, which runs her car.

She and Marshall signed with United Business last year to contest four events including rounds of the Intercontinental Rally Championship and the World Rally Championship. That gave them valuable experience and exposure at a level above what they achieved in 2011 when they won a scholarship to compete in the WRC Academy development series.

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Kopecky and Dresler smartly claimed victory in Czech, PLUS photo gallery

Jan Kopecky’s co-driver Pavel Dresler has praised him after they raced to their fifth victory in the 2013 FIA European Rally Championship (ERC) with a storming drive on Barum Czech Rally Zlín this weekend.

The Czech stars were unbeatable in their Skoda Motorsport Fabia S2000 on their way to claim the top spot by more than one minute over countrymen Václav Pech/Petr Uhel.

Afterwards, Dresler said: “I would like to thank Honza [Jan] because on the first day he showed how fast he could drive and on the second day he showed he could drive with his brain. It’s a perfect result and one of the goals in my career.”

Skoda’s Head of Technical Development, Dr Frank Welsch, said: ​“That was an impressive performance from the Skoda works team in front of so many excited supporters. Special congratulations must go to Jan Kopecky, who is now a three-time winner here,” said Dr Frank Welsch, the head of Technical Development at ŠKODA, who was in Zlín to watch Kopecky and Dresler triumph.

Kopecky, meanwhile, was full of praise for the factory Skoda team. He said: “First of all, I’d like to thank the whole team – they did everything perfectly. I’m so happy. That is a big victory for Skoda and for us. The basis of every success is a great team and Skoda Motorsport is a perfect team. Also the car was prepared very well, it was very reliable and very fast and simply in perfect order. On Sunday I drove with safety in mind; I didn’t want to make the same mistakes from 2010 when I threw away victory.”

Up next for Kopecky and Dresler is LOTOS 70th Rally Poland from 13 – 15 September.

Read the full event report in this week’s coming issue of HANDBRAKES & HAIRPINS.

Photos by ERC:

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Toshi Arai signs on for three more ERC rounds [PLUS PHOTO GALLERY]

Toshi Arai’s podium-scoring appearance on the European Rally Championship’s Sibiu Rally last month won’t be his last in this year’s FIA series.

The experienced Japanese, who fought illness to hand Subaru and Yokohama their first podiums of 2013 in third overall, will also contest the ERC rounds in Czech Republic (Zlín), Poland and Italy (Sanremo) having already made his first appearance for Stohl Racing in Romania.

“Apart from Sibiu I am doing Poland and I will also do the Barum Rally in Czech Republic and Sanremo on Tarmac so four in total,” said Arai, who also bagged ERC Production Car Cup honours in Romania for Stohl Racing.

As well as overseeing Arai’s bid, Austria-based Stohl Racing runs current ERC Production Car Cup leader Andreas Aigner.

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Molly bags more points in Romania

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.

MOLLY SIBIU Taylor_Rou_10[2]

“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.

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