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After a dogfight out on the roads of the Nannup plantation forest today Molly Taylor and Bill Hayes have finished the competitive stages of Heat One at the Make Smoking History Forest Rally with a 3.1 second lead.

Molly Taylor took victory in Heat 1. (Photo: Subaru / Warren Kirby)Coming into the round only three points separated the leading crews in the CAMS Australian Rally Championship® (ARC) and the action today confirmed the battle for ARC supremacy isn’t about to get any easier for any of the crews.

Taylor and Hayes traded stage wins with Harry Bates/John McCarthy, Eli Evans/Glen Weston and Nathan Quinn/Ben Searcy throughout the day with the lead switching an incredible five times in eight stages.

“It definitely kept us on our toes for sure but it was one of the most enjoyable days rallying I’ve had in a long time just because we had that battle,” Taylor said at the final service.  

“It wasn’t just a case of maintaining a lead or being stuck in a time where you can’t catch the person in front. To have the lead change all the time and you didn’t know what was going to be the outcome of the next stage forced us to really push as hard as we could and Harry and the others were doing the same so it was a lot of fun,” she continued.

As first car on the road Bates spent the day sweeping the roads for the rest of the crews, but managed to find his groove and keep the pressure on Taylor until the last stage.

An off-road excursion for Forest Rally debutants Marcus and Scott Walkem on SS8 saw Quinn/Searcy move into third while overnight leaders Evans/Weston dropped 1 and a half minutes on the second forest stage and spent the rest of the day clawing their way up the field to finish fourth.

Heat One bragging rights in the CAMS Onslow Contracting WA Rally Championship (WARC) sit with Brad Markovic and Toni Feaver who finished the competitive stages with a narrow 0.7second lead over 2016 WARC champions Dylan King/Abbey Hayes.

Tom Wilde and Madelin Kirkhouse rounded out the top three WARC crews.

“We are over the moon, today was a little bit of a different way we approached the rally, we weren’t actually looking at results we just went through the first couple of stages to find a good rhythm and were pretty happy and comfortable with the pace we had out there,” Markovic said.

“We got to the end of the day and didn’t realise how close it was at that stage, so very happy with how we’ve finished for the day, 5th outright in the ARC - that’s the most important thing for us - but more so I think we’re just comfortable that the pace we showed today is going in the right direction,” he continued.

More than 50 crews from across Australia are contesting the Make Smoking History Forest Rally through the forests of Nannup and around the electric Trade Hire Busselton Special Stage. The event is the second round of both the CAMS Australian Rally Championship® and the CAMS Onslow Contracting WA Rally Championship.

- Event release

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