The 2011 East Gippsland Stages / Bog A Duck (round 1 of the Victorian Rally Championship and Victorian Club Rally Series) saw the much awaited return to rallying for young gun Hayden Taylor.  

Taylor has proven himself to be a strong competitor in the past winning the 2003 Junior Cup and going on to be one of the leading 2wd cars of 2004 and 2005. Driving the borrowed Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 3 for this event would be something new to Taylor, having not driven a 4 wheel drive car in a rally before; he was at a distinct disadvantage.

“Most of the other guys here have driven their cars before in many different events; whereas this is the first time I have even given this car full throttle let alone drive in a rally,” Taylor said prior to the start.  

“I just want to finish the rally and if we place well then it’s a bonus,” he added. Taylor was teamed up with long-time friend and experienced co driver Dale Allan, who has had a lot of experience in rallying in Victoria and is sitting with Taylor for the first time.

Taylor and Allan did not disappoint either setting an incredible 9thoutright fastest time on SS1 “Tree Dance”. But trouble struck the pair early in SS2 where engine management issues forced a reluctant but necessary reduction in throttle usage to save from damaging the engine.

“We had to drive the entire 2nd stage using only about quarter throttle, which I can tell was the longest 23km of my life!” said Taylor after losing around 2 minutes in the very slippery “Park Over Ere” stage.  Lucky for Taylor he was able to rectify the issue in the next transport section, allowing the pair to continue on in the rally.

Taylor said: “I was lucky I knew how to fix the problem otherwise I would’ve had to withdraw from the event.”  Taylor managed to get through the next 2 slippy and muddy stages unscathed and made it to the half way service break in 15th outright VRC and an amazing 4th outright in the VCRS.  Taylor was very happy to see those half time scores.  “After losing so much time I thought we were completely out of contention but things are still looking good for us.” He said.

After service there were 3 night time forest stages that had received a lot of rain and were very slippery also. “We had an electrical drama somewhere in the wipers and they were only working intermittently, so it was very hard to see.” Taylor says, “The night stages also had some fog roll in as well so that made things difficult to drive, but it’s the same for everyone”.

Taylor drove very conservatively  in the night stages to ensure a finish, and finish they did, an impressive 11th outright VRC and 3rdoutright VCRS. It didn’t come easy though, “There were a couple of very tricky corners that were extremely slippery, they very nearly caught us out and I know I’m not the only one!” Taylor said, “But I’m very happy to finish the rally with the result that we have all things considered.”

Well done to Steven Kenway & Lauren Palmer who took the outright win (The first of their career), with Warren Lee & David Lethlean in 2nd and Rowan Woollard & Andrew Bell in an impressive 3rd.

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