Thursday, 3 April 2014

Molly Taylor


Molly Taylor in 2013

Molly is an Australian driver from an established rallying family: her father is Mark Taylor, a driver, and her mother is Coral Taylor, a co-driver with four Australian championships to her name. Despite her background, Molly’s initial sporting passion was for horses, and as a teenager, she competed in cross-country. She only took up motorsport at 17, after working at her father’s rally driving school and then finishing well in some motorkhana events. Her first competition car was a Holden Gemini.
She began her stage rallying career in 2006, supported by the Australian motorsport authority’s Women’s Driver Development programme. Straight away, she won the Rallye Des Femmes in Canberra, a women-only event, five minutes ahead of her nearest competitor. In her first season, she won the NSW 2WD and 2-litre titles.
Having proved her worth at state-level competition, she set the bar higher in 2007, and entered the Australian championship. This turned into two top-ten finishes in major Australian rallies in 2007, and an outright win in the F1600 class of the Australian championship, driving a Holden Gemini.
She repeated her achievement in 2008, driving a Mitsubishi Mirage. Her first big result was ninth, in the Coates Rally Queensland., followed by eleventh in the Canberra Rally.  She was 19th in the South Australia Rally, despite a spin and a puncture. During the Great Lakes Rally, she secured enough points to claim the S1600 championship on the first day, despite rolling the car and crashing out later. She then retired from the Melbourne Rally. 
Away from the official Australian championship, she scored her first win on the Myall Lakes Rally, in the multi-club class. Late in the European season, in September, she travelled to the UK for the Yorkshire International Rally, driving a Suzuki Swift. She was 28th overall, and seventh in class.
A move to England full-time followed in 2009, in order to further her rally career. Her British co-driver was Jemma Bellingham. She narrowly missed winning the Suzuki Swift Sport Cup after a fuel pump failure on the Yorkshire Rally. She was runner-up and British Ladies’ Champion as a consolation. Her best finish was 20th on the Pirelli Rally, which second of her two Swift Cup wins. The first came during the Bulldog Rally of North Wales, in which she was 24th. Her other events were the Jim Clark, Manx and Ulster Rallies. She crashed out in the Isle of Man, but finished the other two.
The following year, it was time for a new car. She exchanged the Swift for a Citroen C2, and contested the C2 Trophy in the UK. She also had a new co-driver: Phil Clarke sat alongside her for most of the year, apart from two rallies, where she was navigated by her mother, Coral. This year, Molly did not fare quite as well in her class, but her overall results were better, and more consistent. Her best overall finished were two fourteenth places, in the Manx and Trackrod Rallies, and she stayed in the top twenty for every rally she finished. Her best class finish was third, again, in the Trackrod Rally. Her performances were enough for her to defend her Ladies’ title.
She won a place in the WRC Academy for 2011, the replacement for the Junior WRC. Competing in six World Championship rallies across Europe in a Ford Fiesta,  her best result was fifth in class, achieved in the Alsace Rally France and Wales Rally GB. Academy drivers were not part of the main classification. She was eighth in Portugal, , did not finish in Italy, was ninth in Finland and fourteenth in Germany. This left her eleventh in the Academy standings.  Away from the WRC Academy, she did most of the British championship, in the Fiesta. Her best result was fourteenth, in the Pirelli Rally, but she retired from her other three British events: the Sunseeker, Bulldog and Scottish Rallies. Mid-season, she travelled to Estonia for the Rally of Estonia, and was 71st overall, eighth in class.
In 2012, she was active across Europe, and competed in two WRC events at the end of her season: Wales Rally GB, where she was 20th, and Finland, which she did not finish. Her car was a Citroen DS3 R3T. For her first rally of the year, the Bulldog, she used the Fiesta, but retired. Her first event in the Citroen was the Ypres Rally, where she was 35th. Her next outing in it was the Casentino International Rally in Italy, running as the course car. Molly was now working with an Italian sports management company, and spending quite a lot of time there. Her next rally was also in Italy, the Coppa Città di Lucca. She was 23rd, alongside Sebastian Marshall, who was her regular co-driver this season.
In 2013, she continued with the Citroen DS3, based in Italy and mostly following the ERC circuit. Her year started in the Portuguese Azores islands,  with a class win in the Açores City Rally Show, and 21st overall. Unfortunately, she retired from the Açores Rally proper, after an accident. Her next ERC Rally, the Tour de Corse, gave her another class win, which counted towards the championship this time. She was fourteenth overall and first lady driver, in front of the experienced Ekaterina Stratieva. A second visit to the Ypres Rally ended in retirement, but a first trip to Romania, for the Sibiu Rally Romania, gave her 25th, and seventh in class. This was another Ladies’ win over Stratieva. The Barum Czech Rally Zlín ended similarly: 26th and sixth in class. In addition to this, Molly was running in the Citroen Racing Trophy class, and was second in that. A third in the Citroen racing Trophy followed in Poland, in the Rajd Polski, in which she was 23rd. She was also 23rd in the Croatia Rally. A non-ERC outing in the Ronde della Val d'Orcia in Italy followed, and she achieved her best overall finish of the year: twelfth, with a class win. Her last event was the Wales Rally GB, in which she was 23rd again, fourth in class. She ended the year as the European Ladies’ Rally Champion, replacing Ekaterina Stratieva.
Australian rallying had not been completely forgotten. Mid-season, she travelled back to her home country for the Scouts Rally. Driving the Ford Fiesta, she was eighth in one heat, with a class win, and 20th in another.
Away from the rally stages, she is involved with the FIA’s Women in Motorsport Commission, which supports female involvement in motorsport, having been supported by its Australian equivalent.
In 2014, Molly contested the Junior World Rally Championship in the Citroen, intending to enter six rounds. Having let her regular co-driver Sebastian Marshall go, due to commercial pressures, she initially competed alongside her mother, Coral. They only did one rally together, the Rally of Portugal, in April. Molly was 37th, eighth in the JWRC, and eighth in the WRC3 standings. Her next event was the Rally of Poland in June. The gap between her rally outings did not help her preparedness, and Coral was also unable to co-drive for her daughter. Seb Marshall returned, and they got to the finish in 45th, despite serious clutch problems and a resulting time penalty on the penultimate day. 

They did better in Finland, finishing 35th overall, but third in the JWRC, and fourth in WRC3, despite a series of punctures. Unfortunately, funding issues meant that Molly was sidelined until Wales Rally GB in November. She had planned to drive in the Rallye Deutschland and Rallye Alsace, but her funding ran out. She did secure some more later in the season, and got her best overall finish of the year in Wales: 32nd. She was fourth in the JWRC and WRC3. At the end of the year, she was sixth in both WRC3, and the JWRC.   
In 2015, she returned to Australia, and rallied a Renault Clio in her domestic championship. She began well, with a third and a fourth in the Quit Forest Rally heats, and was normally a top-ten finisher throughout the year, and earned seven class wins. She was second in the championship. Her only international outing was the Rally of Australia, in which she was seventeenth.

2016 saw Molly moving into rally raids. She won one of the prize drives in the Sealine Qatar Desert Challenge offered in the FIA Women in Motorsport Desert Challenge, held at the end of 2015. However, she was back in Australia for the rally season there. Despite not winning an event outright, she was the Australian rally champion, as she had been the highest-placed Australian registered for the championship in two events: the SA Lightforce Rally, in which she was second, and the WRC Rally of Australia, in which she was thirteenth. Her second place in the Lightforce event followed a string of top-five finishes in Australian rallies, and another runner-up spot in the non-championship Tin Bin Dash Rallysprint. Her car was a Subaru Impreza, mostly supported by Subaru Australia.

At the very end of 2016, she had a go at co-driving, assisting a token male driver in the Rallye des Femmes, a women's rally held near Canberra.

(Image from www.mollytaylor.com.au) 

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