New South Wales rally driver Molly Taylor made history last weekend when she became the first woman to win the Australian Rally Championship since the ARC was introduced in 1968.
Driving the Les Walkden Rally Team-prepared Subaru WRX the 28-year-old, together with experienced co-driver Bill Hayes, not only won the fifth and final round of the ARC, but finished 14th overall and were the first Australian team home in the three-day World Rally Championship event at Coffs Harbour.
To make it even more special she now shares an ARC title with her mother Coral who won four ARC co-driver titles in 1993,1994,1995 and 2008 with Neal Bates.
In a dramatic end to the rally, title rivals Simon Evans/Ben Searcy in the Subaru WRX and Harry Bates/John McCarthy in the Toyota Corolla, suffered punctures which put them out of contention.
There was a nervous wait for Taylor/Hayes at the end of the event when initial ARC round winners Mark Pedder and Dale Moscatt were penalised one minute for booking in early at the final stage.
Taylor/Hayes had to wait to see if the Renault team lodged a protest against the penalty, but when it was not forthcoming the Subaru team were able to enjoy the win and the championship honours.
The ARC title is the latest in the line of success for Taylor having won the FIA European Rally Championship for ladies in 2013 and the British ladies championship from 2009-2010.
Taylor has also competed on the world stage when she contested six WRC events in 2011, as part of the FIA WRC Academy, scoring two top five finishes.
After finishing as runner up in the 2015 ARC, Taylor hailed this title as a dream come true, arriving after joining a new factory-backed Subaru program this season run out of Launceston by the Les Walkden Rally Team.
“It is certainly the best motor sport moment I have had for sure. To be able to do this in our first year with Subaru and LWR is beyond what I thought was possible,” Taylor said.
The win was not without it’s challenges as the team had to overcome an overheating engine by running with the heater on to counteract the rising engine temperatures.
“This was possibly the most physically draining rally I have ever done.”
Taylor/Hayes finished all eleven events in the championship with one first, one second, one third and six fourth places, as well two fifths to prove that consistency was the key to their success.
It should also be borne in mind that they ran the championship in a showroom spec Group N car against the more powerful, modified PRC cars.