IT’S often called a ‘works’ drive or a ‘factory’ seat – the spot held by a professional racing driver in a manufacturer-backed effort to win a championship. In 2016, just one such role exists in the prestigious Kumho Tyre Australian Rally Championship.
The factory ride at Subaru do Motorsport belongs to 28-year-old Sydney racer Molly Taylor, who brings a wealth of European rally experience to the role, and a family history steeped in the sport here in Australia.
While Molly is the daughter of four time Australian Rally Championship winning co-driver Coral Taylor (who has sat alongside Australian rally legend Neal Bates for nearly 20 years) and former rally driver Mark Taylor, she wasn’t always sure she’d follow in the family tradition.
“I always loved it,” she said. “But I never really had the taste – that addiction.”
In an interview with Exhaust Notes Australia, Molly told us it was her dad that got her into racing, telling her he wanted her to do it so she could learn how to drive a road car, while she was helping out at his rally school during school holidays as a 16-year-old. “I wasn’t really interested until then,” Molly said.
But her interest grew from then on, and Molly dove into the sport boots and all, learning from her mistakes along the way. “It’s a very quick way to learn, when you’re paying for it,” she said.
“It’s part of trying to find the limits and you can’t really do that unless you push. It’s inevitable you’ll make a mistake and roll it over or something.”
Molly set the benchmark early, winning her first NSW championship in 2006 and kick starting a stellar career that would take her across the world.
In 2007 and 2008 she won the Australian Formula 1600cc Championship (the youngest driver ever to hold that title), before heading to Europe and becoming the British Ladies Rally champion in 2009 and 2010, while also finishing third in the Citroen Racing Trophy series in that year.
In 2012 she finished third in the R3 WRC Wales Rally of Great Britain, before winning the FIA European Ladies Rally title in 2013, and being ranked the number one international female rally driver that same year.
“I spent quite a few years in Europe and it’s an awesome opportunity to bring that experience back here,” she said.
Back in Australia in 2015, Molly finished second in the Australian Rally Championship, becoming the first female driver to win an Australian Rally event along the way with victory in the National Capital Rally, finished on the podium at every single round, and was awarded the Peter Brock Medal for driving ability and being a positive role model in motor sport.
“I never really thought of it but I’m bowled over by how many young girls come up to me in the service area,” she said. “It’s amazing how many little girls want to be rally drivers or race mechanics, just amazing.”
Of everything she has achieved in her career to date (remember she’s only 28), Molly says the deal to drive for Subaru is the thing she’s most proud of.
“There’s only one factory seat in the country,” she said. “But this is a dream come true. It’s a tough sport but I’m committed and everything is going the way we wanted it to so far – better actually.”
The final round of the 2016 Australian Rally Championship is being held this weekend, run in conjunction with the Australian round of the FIA World Rally Championship at Coffs Harbour, and the local competition is set to go down to the wire.
Molly and co-driver Bill Hayes are locked in a tight tussle with four time Australian Rally champ Simon Evans, and fellow young gun Harry Bates (the son of Neal Bates), with just a handful of points separating the trio of fiercely competitive drivers.
Rally Australia kicks off this Thursday (17 November), and continues to Sunday. Molly Taylor and the Subaru do Motorsport team (car #75 this weekend), sit second in the Australian Rally Championship heading into the final round.