Molly Taylor has confirmed Kiwi Malcolm Read as her co-driver for the 2018 CAMS Australian Rally Championship.
Read replaces the 2017 Championship winning co-driver Bill Hayes in the left seat of the Subaru WRX STI, with Hayes making the decision to take a step back from rallying in 2018.
Taylor said while Hayes would be hard to replace, she was excited about working with Read.
“Bill has set the bar very high and we had to think long and hard about who could aspire to his level of ability and professionalism, but we’re confident we’ve found a great fit with Malcolm,” Taylor said.
“Just like Bill, he’s highly motivated and experienced and after testing this week in Tasmania, we’re quietly confident that we can produce the goods.”
Read has been rallying since 2004 and has competed as co-driver in more than 100 events around the world, including wins at all three of the 2014, 2015, 2016 FIA Asia Pacific Production Cup Championships, the 2013 and 2014 FIA Asia Pacific 2WD Championships and the 2013 FIA Asia Cup Championship.
With just over a week to go until the season opener at The Courier Eureka Rally, Taylor and the Subaru do Motorsport team have been busy preparing for another tilt at the Championship.
Taylor said she expected plenty of fierce competition in the Championship this year.
“It’s a shame 2017 champion Nathan Quinn won’t be competing this year, however the field is shaping up to be bigger and more competitive yet again,” Taylor said.
“The extra round in Tasmania this year is a huge opportunity, as it reduces the mid-season break and, being a new event based out of Launceston, makes a big learning curve for all competitors, though I’m sure (team owner) Les Walkden’s local knowledge will be a big help when we get down there in July.”
Subaru Australia Managing Director Colin Christie said the manufacturer was hoping for a strong result in 2018 after mechanical woes in the final round at the Kennards Hire Rally Australia cost Taylor the 2017 crown.
“After just missing out on the Championship in 2017, Molly and Malcolm are on a mission to restore Subaru honours this year,” Christie added.
“Les Walkden and the LWR crew are focused on ensuring the WRX STI is as lean and mean as can be. With many new variations both within our own team and the series, it’s going to make it an intriguing season all round.”