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Overheating problems put an early and disappointing end to Australian rally driver Molly Taylor’s first event for the 2011 season in Europe.

Molly and fellow Australian co-driver Rebecca Smart had entered the Rallye Sunseeker this past weekend, the first round of the British Rally Championship.

While they had hoped for as high a placing as possible, the main aim was to bed down the brand-new partnership between the two Australians, to fine-tune their pace noting system and the processes they will need to tackle the first event of the WRC Academy sub-series at the World Rally Championship in Portugal next month.

“It was so frustrating,” says Molly.

“We were just starting to find our feet and things were falling into place when the temperature warning light came on during the last stage (SS4) of the first loop.

“The problem is, the [Ford] Fiesta R2 has no temperature gauge, so I had no idea how hot it was – whether it was just a warning or if the engine was really hot and we were in danger of cooking it. All I could tell was that we were dropping power and going into limp mode.

“So we replaced the fan during service straight after that stage and went back out again. But we were only about a mile into stage five when the light came on again, so rather than risk damaging the engine, I made the call to pull out.

“We won’t really know what the problem is until the guys strip down the car this week, but for sure it was frustrating. Apart from that, the only real issue I had was that I was rusty, because I haven’t done an event since September.”

Aside from the drama and the disappointment, Molly says she and Smart were reasonably comfortable in the car on their first outing together, although they hadn’t had enough time to build up to full commitment. That, they hope, will come next weekend.

“We’ve entered the Malcolm Wilson Rally which we will use as a test session and try to pick up where we left off this weekend. I just want a good solid day’s run to work out what I can get out of the car, because the next event we do is the WRC round in Portugal, and we want everything to be going as smoothly as possible for that.”

The 36th annual Malcolm Wilson Rally, created by the former world championship driver and current Ford WRC team manager, is a one-day event that is 306km long, of which 73km is timed against the clock, in seven special stages.

Taylor began rallying in 2005 and moved to the UK two years ago (she has dual citizenship) to be closer to the top levels of the sport with the aim of making a career as a professional driver, and began posting solid results immediately.

Smart started watching rallying at the age of 12 with her brother before the pair launched into the sport in 2007. They were second outright in the Australian Rally Championship last year.

The pair will contest six rounds of this year’s WRC in the junior Academy series as well as selected rounds of the British and European championships.

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