A COMBINATION of mechanical issues and illness robbed Australia’s Molly Taylor of the result she wanted in Lotos 71st Rally Poland, but she says there are still plenty of positives from a gruelling weekend.
Molly, 26, finished eighth in class after rejoining the Junior World Rally Championship round under special competition regulations (allowed to restart after a forced retirement, but with a time penalty), in the wake of clutch failure on Day Three of the four-day event, which finished on Sunday.
“It was just heartbreaking to have the clutch problems on Saturday because we had such a promising start,” says Molly, who not only battled a recalcitrant car for much of the event, but also a stomach virus.
“We were pushing for fourth place when the problem first became apparent, so it’s great to know we had the pace in what was a very close competition in our class.
“It’s easy to think ‘what might have been’ but you have to deal with the cards you’re given and we did the best we could in pretty testing circumstances. Looking ahead to the next event (Finland), I’m glad we were able to finish here because this weekend has been good preparation.
“The roads here were very fast, and they will be very fast in Finland. We made some definite improvements in Poland and were posting some top five stage times on the last day, so we’re looking forward to continuing to improve our pace when we get to Finland. We’re gaining with each event, so it was disappointing to have these mechanical issues.”
The Polish event was round seven of the 13-round WRC series for 2014, but the second event this year for the world’s number one female rally driver who is contesting six rounds of the junior WRC category in a Citroën DS3 R3T.
The remaining rounds of her 2014 program are Neste Oil Rally Finland (July 31-August 3), ADAC Rallye Deutschland (August 22-24), Rallye de France-Alsace (October 3-5) and Wales Rally GB (November 14-16).
She is scheduled to attend Coates Hire Rally Australia in September, but is not expected to compete.
For Molly’s first round of the year (Rally Portugal, April 3-6), she had her mother – a professional co-driver and four-time winner of the Australian Rally Championship – calling for her, but business commitments prevented Coral Taylor making the trip to Poland. Instead, experienced British co-driver Seb Marshall, who has partnered Molly for the past three years, returned to the passenger seat for the Polish event.
“It was great to have Seb back in the car for the weekend, just like old times. He was a terrific support, as usual, and we picked up exactly where we left off at the end of last year. I’m very grateful for all his help over what was a very challenging weekend.”
Rally Poland was based in Mikolajki, three hours north of Warsaw, in the Masurian Lake District, but included stages in both Poland and Lithuania. Several stages had to be cancelled because of deteriorating conditions, and a large number of competitors failed to finish because the event was so tough.