With SS4 shortened due to dust concerns, the pair focused on consolidating their position over the four afternoon tests.
A third place on the last long-haul stage of the day, SS9 Newry16 II, was sufficient to elevate the team to fourth overall.
Going into the two rapid-fire evening Super Special blasts near the Coffs Harbour jetty, Taylor and Hayes were well placed for a strong start on day two of the three-day event, with a gearbox change pending in post-competition service.
Molly said: “It was a lot of fun this morning, even though it was very hot.
“We had a nice clean run. We were really determined to start well and we’re doing everything we can to make sure it’s working from our end.
“The car’s really strong and reliable, and we just need to keep doing what we’ve done all year, stay consistent and get every corner right.
“Now we’re looking forward to the narrow, fast, technical stages on Saturday and Sunday.”
Saturday brings a further seven stages, including two runs through the 50.80 kilometre Nambucca endurance test and a repeat of the two evening Super Special Stages.
To celebrate Subaru do Motorsport’s participation at Coffs Harbour, local dealer Geoff King Subaru is displaying the promo WRX STI NR4 at its Tolhurst Place Showroom. A variety of Subaru do Motorsport merchandise is also on sale at the dealership, including the latest range of T-shirts.
Visitors to the Subaru do Motorsport service area in Coffs Harbour can also enter a competition to win hot laps around the iconic Mount Panorama race circuit at Bathurst, NSW, in a specially prepared Model Year 2017 WRX STI, driven by Molly.
The prize also includes one night’s accommodation for Subaru’s Climb the Mountain Event on Tuesday February 7, 2017, at which customers can also pay $495 for the ride experience. More details of this exciting prize will be announced next week at the start of the rally. (Terms and conditions apply).
DAY ONE PLACINGS AFTER SS9
1. Evans/Searcy, Subaru Impreza WRX, 1:00:20.8
2. Bates/McCarthy, Toyota Corolla S2000, 1:00:55.1, +00:34.3
3. Pedder/Moscatt, Peugeot 208, 1:02:06.6, +01:45.8
4. Taylor/Hayes, Subaru WRX STI, 1:02:08.7, +01:47.9