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A challenging weekend in the final round of the 2013 World Rally Championship has had a happy ending for Australian rally driver, Molly Taylor.

Taylor, 25, who was recently crowned the inaugural European Ladies Rally Champion notched up a series of personal bests last weekend at Wales Rally GB, including fourth in the highly competitive two-wheel-drive class, 23rd outright and third privateer. She also won the prestigious and highly coveted Richard Burns Trophy*.

The run in the final round of the world championship was a reward from her manager, Pier Liberali, of Italian-based sports management company, United Business, for her achievement in the European Rally Championship.

Wales Rally GB was run over four days on the slippery forest roads of mid and north Wales, and made news in the UK for an estimated influx of one million spectators, despite the wet, cold and foggy conditions.

“We’re really happy with what we achieved over the weekend, “ Taylor says.

“It was a really tough event but we managed to keep going and posted some really fast stage times in between the various issues we had, so we are taking away a lot of positives from the experience.

“It was a great way to finish what has been a very challenging but ultimately very rewarding year, and I’m really grateful to Seb [co-driver Seb Marshall], Pier [Liberali] and the whole BP Racing team for having the chance to do it.”

Taylor’s weekend started with some frustration after the car she hired to do the mandatory reconnaissance of the event didn’t perform and needed some ‘bush mechanics’ to get it going.  Then there were other ‘character-building’ problems before the start, and during the event.

“We didn't get a chance to do a pre-event test so it was a tricky start to the rally as we had a new car set-up that we weren't used to for the wet conditions in GB.  We only had a few runs at shakedown to find the set-up for the rally,” says Taylor, who ran the same Citroën DS3 R3T in United Business livery that she has driven throughout this year’s European Rally Championship series.

“We had some turbo issues on the three stages on Thursday night which were fixed at service, and then we had a lot of fun on the Friday morning. The stages were awesome and we were very happy with our times.

“Friday afternoon was a bit more challenging because we had a problem with the throttle sensor. We couldn't get full throttle on the fast sections and then the throttle was sticking on the low speed sections.  The car had a mind of its own and it was scary on the steep downhill sections when the throttle kept sticking on.”

Saturday was a mix of truly enjoyable runs with good times on the board and then a spell of not so much fun. One of the last stages of the day was a section she and Marshall had missed during ‘recce’ with their car problems. They came into a corner too fast and rolled the car.

“I tried to wash off as much speed as possible but clipped the inside of the corner and tipped the car on its roof,” Taylor says.

“Luckily we did a complete roll and landed back on the wheels and we were able to keep going. We actually didn’t lose that much time".

The final day of competition was Sunday and Taylor found the stages to be more muddy and slippery than she had anticipated. While there were no real problems, she wasn’t happy with the tyres she had chosen to cope with the conditions.

“It wasn’t ideal but we were still happy with the day, and the whole weekend, really. Our goal was to be in the top five in our class, given the calibre of the field, and we achieved that. There were some really good stage times, a good result, and some really fantastic trophies to take home [co-driver Seb Marshall won the prestigious Michael Park Trophy*] so we are very happy!”

Taylor now has some serious planning meetings over the next week or two, before she can head home to Sydney for Christmas with her family. While she has nothing locked in for next year, plans for another season in Europe are on the drawing board.

** The Richard Burns Trophy and the Michael Park Trophy are in memory of two former rally champions. Burns was the 2001 world rally champion, having finished runner-up in 1999 and 2000. He died of a brain tumour in 2005. Park was a champion co-driver, who was killed in a crash on Wales Rally GB in 2005. The trophies are awarded to the highest placed non-priority driver and co-driver competing in Wales Rally GB.

Photo: Ian Grainger

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