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If you don’t get nervous beforehand, you probably don’t care about it enough.  On the start line of stage one of the Rally of the Bay, I was feeling a good mix of nerves and excitement. The day I’d been waiting for for such a long time had finally come; it was time to do my first rally.
Nothing was stopping me this time, fires, Coronavirus, nothing!
A phrase that I have been using to describe the rally held on July 4th was “the best day of my life”, and it’s not a word of a lie. To narrow it down even more, I’ve done some cool things in my time, but getting a 9th fastest time in the marathon 45km ‘Run to Mogo’ is definitely up there with the best. You don’t know how much concentration it takes until you’ve actually done it.

Taylor Gill and co-driver Peter Harris ready to start the Rally of the Bay.

The day wasn’t all plain sailing, however. After clearing stage one and posting the 12th fastest time, we rolled into stage two feeling comfortable. As we got towards the back end of the stage, the car began to feel underpowered. At the time my lack of experience failed to pick up that the car was only firing on three cylinders, meaning we drove the following 26km and 9km ‘Drury’ and ‘Follow the River’ stages at a much more sedate pace. Back into service, the boys plugged the ignition lead (which had fallen off) back in and we were good to go again. Not a perfect start to the day, but certainly not a bad start.
Transporting out to stage 5, ’Run to Mogo’, the nerves were setting in again. Prior to this weekend the furthest I’d driven at speed was only 5km, so 45km was quite a jump.
The stage was quite tricky, starting off relatively flowing, then it began to tighten up towards the highest point of the stage. From there it began to open up down the hill, with plenty of tricky crests. After a slow square left through a gate and over a cattle grid, you find yourself on “Quart Pot Road”, a narrow and fast shire road down through the paddocks, eventually winding its way down to a creek crossing. From there to the end of the stage it’s all smooth, fast, flowing and wide. Crossing the finish of that stage was such a buzz, and both myself and co-driver Pete Harris fumbled as much water into our mouths as we could.

Taylor Gill keeps his lines tidy on the 'Run to Mogo' stage. Photo: Peter Whitten

My notes were reasonably tricky in that stage, so poor Pete was sounding pretty croaky towards the end, but my word, what a trooper. In that one stage alone we jumped from 19th overall to 12th.
Not even a top of the line ‘Chux Superwipe’ was going to take the smile off my face!
Unfortunately, an accident caused the cancellation of stage six, so by the time we rolled up to the final stage, the repeat run of ‘Follow the River’, it was enclosed in darkness. My night driving experience is pretty limited, having done a fair few khanacrosses and rallysprints, but nothing compares to driving at speed through a forest at night. The stage was pretty rubbish for us - “dust” is really the only word I can use to describe it. Even so, the feeling of crossing the final finish line was unbelievable. That feeling of accomplishing  of what we had gone there to do was like no other. I learned lots of lessons over the weekend and I just can’t wait for the next one! Until next time, Taylor https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-b2vrNTNW9Y

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