Subaru do Motorsport’s Molly Taylor has claimed heat one honours at round two of the CAMS Australian Rally Championship in a see-sawing battle with Toyota Genuine Parts’ Harry Bates.
The pair swapped the lead no less than five times throughout the day, with Taylor finishing 3.1 seconds ahead of Bates at the Make Smoking History Forest Rally.
Taylor said today’s result was much more than they expected.
“After the problems we had at Ballarat we wanted to be in the top three, that was our goal, but to be in this close battle, it forces you to drive as hard as you can and it was great to have that opportunity to have to push and fight for something—it makes it more rewarding.
“It will be more of the same tomorrow, I think Eli is going to be really strong tomorrow as well so throw him in the mix; we definitely won’t be able to relax now, we have another big day ahead.”
Bates said he was not surprised by Taylor’s pace today.
“I expected Molly to be quick this weekend and I always thought it would be a tough fight, whoever I was in the fight with, but I didn’t expect it to be quite that close,” Bates said.
“It was a really good day, I love a good fight; that’s how it was in the last round for me and that’s how it was again here, it was just against a good friend so it was lots of fun.
“We were fully prepared for the challenge of being car one on the road, and it was challenging but we were really happy with our pace this morning despite that. At the end of the day we went out on a swept road this afternoon and got beaten fair and square. Molly drove amazingly and she deserves it.”
Coffs Coast Rally Team’s Nathan Quinn overcame power issues to finish the day in third.
“We finished up with a good result today and I drove well but unfortunately the times didn’t speak for it; we had some more power dramas with the car, but as I suspected Molly and Eli were quick along with Harry and unfortunately we weren’t able to be in that mix today.
“We’ve been working on the power issue since Ballarat to figure it out, we are not 100 per cent sure but perhaps the good second hand parts I buy for the car are not quite good enough," he quipped.
“It would be nice if we could get back up there, it’s Ben’s first time in the car and some of the corners I don’t think that you can go any faster but it’s getting to the corner and getting out of the corner that’s knocking us around.”
Tankformers’ Eli Evans overcame issues with the map sensor on the Peugeot 208 Maxi to come home in fifth, quickest in four of the last six stages of the day.
“We just ran out of kilometres today,” Evans explained.
“It was unfortunate we had the wire fall off the map sensor so early into the longest stage of the event; we had to do 16 or 17 kilometres with no power and losing a minute and a half is always hard to gain back.
“I just did my best and I’m proud of what I did—we managed to sneak it back into fourth; I know there were some drive times involved but that is out of my hands, I just drove as fast as I could. To be fourth in the points is where I need to be to have chance to win the event.
“We have a really good set up, the Peugeot is running great. I’m really happy with the MRF tyres, the more you lean on them the more grip they are producing. It suits my driving style and it suits the Peugeot so that’s why we were able to be successful in the later stages this afternoon.”
Maximum Motorsport’s Brad Markovic had a steady day to finish in fifth place, followed by fellow West Australians Dylan King and John O’Dowd in sixth and seventh respectively.
Kosciuszko Automotive Rally Team’s Andrew Penny was eighth in heat one, with Tony Sullens, who was forced to replace the head gasket on his Subaru Impreza WRX STi overnight, in ninth.
Marcus Walkem’s Forest Rally debut was cut short today when his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX rolled on stage seven. Co-driver Scott Walkem walked away from the incident, while Marcus was taken to hospital for precautionary reasons.
The second and final heat of the Forest Rally will take place tomorrow around Nannup from 8am.