The duo had amped up the action in their Group N Production Class All-Wheel Drive Subaru WRX STI on the first two morning stages, recording a seventh place on the first pass through the 4.72 kilometre SS2 Settlement 1 and fifth on the day’s equal longest haul, the 29.26 km Wamboin River 1.
Two incidents involving other competitors on SS4 stopped the stage, with cars awarded an average time.
Last night a faulty thermostat seal tested technicians’ teamwork when the car dumped coolant in transit, before it reached the start of the evening first stage Lakeside dash.
But Car number 13 proved lucky, with the techs managing to stem the flow with brief minutes to spare.
This afternoon’s repeat run of the first four stages saw the Subaru crew dig deep on Wamboin River II, where the concentration required on the big distance paid dividends in elevating them to the top five.
After some brief morning showers settled the dust in places today, Molly said: “It was little bit more slippery than we expected, which kept it interesting.
“It got our hearts racing last night when we dropped the coolant, but these are the unexpected things that test our teamwork.”
A ninth place on SS7 was a clue that all was not well under the car this afternoon.
Molly added: “About a third of the way through the stage it felt really tail happy and started losing drive.
“We were disappointed not to move up into fourth, but given the problems late in the day, we were happy to maintain fifth.”
A diagnosis of front diff problems led to the gearbox change in post-event service.
Tomorrow’s Heat Two covers a further six stages over vastly different limestone surfaces, contrasting with the pine forests surrounding Heat One.
The Canberra event is Round Two of the Kumho Tyre Australian Rally Championship 2016.