Subaru’s return to Australian rallying began in modest fashion, with Taylor and Hayes placing 11th after two rapid fire 2.71 kilometre sprints around Busselton’s Barnard Park, on Friday evening.
But today’s return to the challenging dirt over six Forest stages outside Nannup, followed by two 0.85 km bursts around the local oval, saw the Subaru ‘do’ spirit come to the fore.
Taylor began the task of slowly but surely reeling in the competition on the tricky marbled surfaces in the forest.
An eighth place on the 6.32 km SS3 saw Taylor and Hayes lift to 10th overall.
But the first run through the day’s longest stage, the 26.78 km SS4 Ferntree 1, produced the big step, as the duo powered to fourth, making a clear statement of intent.
Third on the 17.85 km SS5 Ellis 1 was the highest stage place for the team until then, helping them retain overall fourth into the lunchtime service.
Consistency was the theme this afternoon, with the repeat of longest stage SS8 Ferndale 2 again demonstrating Taylor’s efficiency on the long hauls, placing third on stage and maintaining fourth overall over the remaining two quick spins around the local oval.
Taylor said: “Today’s been a big lesson in sweeping roads and it’s fair to say our education continues big time, but this car is certainly helping build our confidence over the weekend.
“There are some tricky, slippery surfaces and maybe we’ve gone a bit wide in places, especially where there are a couple of inches of loose gravel on top.”
Heat Two covers a further nine stages, starting tonight with another tarmac sprint around Busselton’s Barnard Park, followed by eight forest stages tomorrow.
HEAT ONE PLACINGS
1. Bates/McCarthy, Toyota Corolla S2000, 01:03:27.7
2. Evans/Searcy, Subaru Impreza WRX STI, 01:03:28.8, +00:01.1
3. Pedder/Moscatt, Peugeot 208 Maxi, 01:05:06.3, +01:38.6
4. Taylor/Hayes, Subaru WRX STI, 01:05:21.4, +01:53.7
5. Dowel/Feaver, Hyundai i20, 01:05:24.9, +01:57.2