Molly Taylor's 2016 Australian Rally Championship victory was a bolt from the blue - a title clinched at the 11th hour at Rally Australia.
Since then, the factory Subaru driver has had a battle to get near the front of the ARC leaderboard as lighter, more nimble AP4 and R5 specification cars have emerged.
RallySport Magazine caught up with Molly for a brief chat about the season so far, and what she's looking forward to with three events still to run.
RSM: The speed in the ARC has gone up a level this year. What are you and LWR/Subaru doing to make the WRX more competitive against the opposition?Molly Taylor: We’ve been able to make a few small tweaks with the car this season, but in reality there isn’t a huge amount of freedom within our regulations to do the type of modifications that the AP4 and R5s can do.
Molly Taylor will be hoping for a change of fortune at Subaru Rally Tasmania. Photo: Luke Whitten
We just have to concentrate on our strengths and making the best use of them.
RSM: The size and weight of the Subaru are still, presumably, its achilles heel. Is there anything you can do about this moving forward .... an XV AP4 for example?MT: The shell of the XV would make it difficult to get to the AP4 minimum weight, so I don’t think that’s the best option if you were to go AP4.
I think the most practical step forward would be to allow a few more freedoms to make our existing car lighter and improve some of the standard geometry.
There are some pretty simple and cost effective ways to do this and still maintain the great platform that we have currently.
RSM: The next event in Tasmania is new to everyone but you. Do you think that will give you an advantage, or are the types of roads down there more likely to suit the more nimble cars?MT: It’s a new event for me too. We have done some state events down there, but this rally will be on completely new roads, so we will see when we get down there!
If it’s like any of the other roads I’ve seen in Tasmania, they are generally pretty fast, which I enjoy. Committing to new pace notes on the first pass will be the key.
RSM: The championship is still alive, but it's getting tougher now. How realistic are your title aspirations now that the series is half way through?
Molly Taylor was the Australian Rally Champion in 2016.
MT: We are never going to give up until we finish the final stage of the year.
For the past two seasons our approach has been the same, to keep our heads down and do a good job out on the stages.
It’s impossible to predict what will happen over the course of the year, so we just need to tick as many boxes as we can along the way to put ourselves in the best position we are capable of.
RSM: Finally, as a whole, how do you think the ARC is tracking this year, and what are you most looking forward to over the coming events?MT: The competitiveness and pace of the ARC is fantastic and I think we are gaining a lot of traction as a series.
It’s not going to grow overnight, but if we can keep providing close and exciting competition, strong characters and showcase this effectively, then our audience will continue to grow. We have to create something people want to watch and be a part of.
Molly Taylor has had a difficult 2018 so far. Photo: Luke Whitten
From my side, I’m really looking forward to the challenge of two completely new events. We don’t know what to expect and it’s going to add another level of difficulty to the way we approach the rallies.
When you are going back to the same roads for a few years, you know what to expect and how best to prepare. When it’s all new, you really have to have 100% trust in the process of making your notes and committing to them if you want to be fast.
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