AUSTRALIAN rally driver Molly Taylor has ditched the dirt for tarmac this month, joining a Lithuanian team for a 1000km endurance race.
Taylor, has signed with the Dynami:t Energy Team after a request from team owner Aleksandras Dainys, to contest the ENEOS 1000, the Baltic region’s biggest endurance race.
The event, now in its 16th year, is part of a huge motorsport show that runs from July 15-18 on a temporary 2.7km street circuit in Palanga, a picturesque and historic seaside resort town on the Baltic Sea in western Lithuania. It’s known as the country’s ‘summer capital’ because of the massive influx of visitors during July and August.
Taylor will share driving duties in a BMW E46 M3, along with Aist Antanaityt, Mantas Matukaitis and Tadas Aganauskas.
“It’s my first proper time in Lithuania and I’m really excited!” Taylor says.
“During Rally Poland last year some of the stages were in Lithuania but this will be my first chance to spend some time here. When I was contacted by Aleksandras and the team about the possibility to compete in the 1000km race I immediately said yes. Obviously as a driver I am always looking for a new challenge and this is a fantastic opportunity.”
This will be Taylor’s second circuit race ever, having contested the Bathurst 12-Hour in a Subaru RS back in 2009.
“I love driving in general, so while rally is my first passion, to drive and race any car is always a pleasure. There is definitely a different type of skill in circuit racing and I’m sure I will learn a lot during this event.”
Taylor is not fazed by the prospect of a new car, a new discipline and an unfamiliar track, saying she plans to take things as they come and make the most out of a new challenge.
“The car will be completely different to what I am used to, but I’ve always been a big fan of the E46 M3, so I am really looking forward to driving it. In rallying, you have to learn to adapt quickly, so I hope that this will help me when it comes to the race.”
She’s wary of making too many predictions for the outcome of the event, saying there are too many variables in a race that is 1000km long and could run for up to 10 hours. Aside from what the team may be hoping for, she is realistic about what she hopes to achieve.
“Obviously the team would like the best result possible, and I will certainly be working as hard as I can towards that goal, but I think the most important thing will be to take this as a learning experience.
“It’s impossible to know what to expect as it is all completely new, so I think the most important thing is to work with the team to enjoy the event, improve and bring the car to the finish.”
Taylor is currently running second in the 2015 Australian Rally Championship points tally after creating history as the first woman to win a round of the series, and taking podium finishes at the two other events run so far.
She left Australia in late 2009 to chase her dream of a professional driving career in Britain and Europe. She competed in the British, European and World Rally Championships and during that time she was named British Ladies Champion two years in a row, won the inaugural European Rally Championship Ladies Trophy and was officially recognised as the fastest female rally driver in the world (2013).
Team owner/manager Dainys wanted to create an international team to contest the 1000km race, hence the invitation to Taylor. She was first approached last year, but her rally commitments in Europe precluded the possibility. Negotiations began again in earnest as soon as the 2014 race had been run and won.
Forty-six teams will contest the ENEOS 1000, with competitors and spectators coming from across Europe. The festival includes a wide range of racing including historic, super sprint, slalom – and even a running race for mechanics!
Taylor’s bid to win the 2015 Australian Rally Championship resumes in mid September when she contests round four of the five-round series, to be held in Coffs Harbour. The ARC event is being run in conjunction with Australia’s round of the World Rally Championship.