Taylor and co-driver Bill Hayes finished fourth on both heats in WA in the production-class turbocharged All-Wheel Drive WRX STI NR4, but anticipate even more intense competition from the expanded entry list in Canberra – 27 in the ARC versus just 18 in WA.
Taylor said: “Canberra is almost like competing in two different rallies over one weekend, so there is definitely a bit of strategy which comes into play.
“On Heat One we’re out in the pine forests on some rough red dirt roads, then on Heat Two we’re the other side of town on quite narrow technical roads with limestone surfaces, which are very technical.
“But we take a lot more experience into this round. WA was my first time out in an All-Wheel Drive car – let alone a new car - so there were several unknowns which are no longer factors coming into Canberra.”
Taylor and the team from Les Walkden Rallying begin testing again on Wednesday.
She added: ”We’ve got a bit more tuning and tweaking ahead before the weekend, but we’re looking forward to getting the competition underway.
“In climate alone, Canberra will be a massive contrast to WA, with much lower temperatures likely, though that benefits the turbo cars and will contribute to fast times – and spectacular viewing for rally fans.”
The Subaru do Motorsport WRX STI will be sporting an all-new colour scheme in Canberra – hot air balloons and tulips pay tribute to the national capital’s spring time Floriade Festival (September 17-October 16, 2016) and Balloon Spectacular (March 11-19, 2017).
As announced last month, the colour scheme on the WRX STI will change for each event in this year’s Championship, paying homage to key lifestyle or recreational activities held in the area where the rally is hosted.
Taylor’s had a full calendar of Subaru commitments in the three weeks since Quit Forest Rally in WA, fulfilling Ambassador duties at a series of company training events in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, and also finding time to participate in the 21 kilometre Sydney Half Marathon – her first.
She said: “I only signed up for the half marathon at the last minute as I’d originally intended to be overseas at that time, so didn’t know if I’d have the stamina to finish – but I surprised myself!”
Now it is time to re-join the rest of the Subaru do Motorsport team in Canberra where, for the weekend of May 27-29, political rallies will for once be superseded by rally cars.
Canberra was previously a happy hunting ground for the former Subaru Rally Team Australia. Possum Bourne won there on four occasions, Cody Crocker twice - the last in 2005 – and Dean Herridge took honours in 2004.
The Taylor/Hayes combo had recent good form in the ACT too, placing second on both Heat One and Two in last year’s event to take overall honours.