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2019 is Subaru Australia’s fourth year back in the Australian Rally Championship, and their participation continues a long and successful history in national rallying. Molly Taylor’s 2016 ARC crown was her first, but the manufacturers’ 11th title, after many successes with Possum Bourne and Cody Crocker in the 1990s and 2000s. Taylor has already had to concede this year’s title to Toyota’s Harry Bates, but her battle with the second factory Yaris of the younger Bates, Lewis, will go right down to the wire at Rally Australia in November. In between events, however, Subaru travelled to Canberra for a three-day corporate function where journalists, dealers and selected customers were given the chance to ride in a rally car in the Kowen forest, just outside Queanbeyan. RallySport Magazine was one of the media outlets represented, and came away with an even greater appreciation of what it takes to run a national rally team, and the task of running a simple rally stage for invited guests. Subaru had employed Adrian Coppin’s company, Innate Motorsport Events, to set up the day, complete with 3km stage, corporate hospitality area and a place for Subaru’s WRX STI to be fettled between runs.

Fresh driving suits and helmets lined up for a lucky few at the Subaru Ride Day.

Canberra rally driver, Mick Patton, was the man in charge of looking after the Subaru over the three days, while a team of road closure officials were on hand to ensure stage safety. A professional medical team was also required to be available on site. The Subaru PR team of Dave Rowley and Chloe Fraser had put a lot of effort into organising the ride day, and typically, asked for nothing in return. It was more a thank you for coverage provided, and RSM were thrilled to be there. The car Molly was using was not her actual rally car, but a Possum Bourne Motorsport car with full cage, rally suspension and safety gear. Other than that, it was a stock standard WRX. After my recent ride with Hayden Paddon in an R5 Hyundai, Molly was concerned it would all be a little underwhelming for me, but it was far from that.

Co-driver's had the chance to read Molly's pace notes as she negotiated the test stage.

Molly Taylor and Peter Whitten team up for the first time in a factory Subaru .......

She quickly explained that the standard gearbox meant she had to use the clutch and not left foot brake, after which I sat back and enjoyed the show. Compared to the R5 car, the WRX was like a limousine, with a smooth ride, and not much noise from the engine, but it was still impressively fast. Molly and I spent most of the two laps of the 3km course chatting, but her ability to control the car and get the most out of it were clearly apparent. She’s a talented driver – right up with the best in Australia. The WRX was also running on Pirelli tyres, which she admitted had completely different road holding capabilities to the control MRF tyres used in the Australian Rally Championship.

Molly's lines are neat and smooth. Photo: Wishart Media

All too quickly the ride came to an end, and it was time for someone else to have their turn. As I said, it was totally different to riding in the R5 car, but no less enjoyable. A beautifully prepared BBQ lunch followed as we sat around chatting about rallying and Subaru’s plans moving forward. Unfortunately, those plans are still pretty fluid, and won’t be finalised until after the final ARC round, Rally Australia, next month. Nevertheless, Subaru again showed their value to Australian rallying, and we’re hoping that their involvement in the sport is long lasting. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JiWfYAQTUio&feature=youtu.be

Possum Bourne's 2002 ARC winning Subaru was on display in the forest.

  • NEXT WEEK: We take a close look at Possum Bourne’s 2002 ARC-winning Impreza WRX.

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