After two weeks of tackling the Saudi Arabian desert, Molly Taylor has managed to complete the Dakar Rally on her first ever attempt.
With co-driver Dale Moscatt by her side in the Can Am South Racing prepared SXS Buggy, the duo faced plenty of adversity during the final few stages of the event, but finished within the top third of their 45-entry SSV class.
Having made it past the halfway point majorly unscathed, the duo pressed on and finished eighth in the event’s eighth stage – the 395km distance the rally’s fourth biggest.
Their strong performance on the stage saw them close in on the SSV top 10, moving to P11 on the standings.
Taylor’s momentum continued into the ninth as she produced her best run for the entire event – a sixth place finish on the 287km stage which saw her progress up to 10th in class.
Unfortunately, the 10th stage of the Dakar Rally proved a significant turning point for the Aussie duo’s campaign as they lost an hour of time and slipped back to 13th in class.
On track for another decent stage time, Taylor hit a rock about 40km from the finish line – ripping the car’s front right suspension apart. Although they were able to eventually fix it with the help of two other crews, the damage had been done as they crossed the line in 41st.
As a result of their low position, the duo were forced to start stage 11 as the 161st outright car off the line, meaning there was plenty of dust and traffic in front of them throughout the 346km penultimate stage.
However they overcame this obstacle and finished 11th in class, which was later changed to 13th after they were given a missed waypoint penalty.
More drama occurred on the event’s final stage overnight as 40km in, the Can-Am buggy’s rear brake jammed and caught fire.
Thankfully they were able to put the fire out and get back on the road, but just like a couple of stages earlier, they lost time and finished down the order once again, clocking in the 36th fastest time of the 44 SSV drivers.
The tough stage saw them lose one more place on the SSV rankings, finishing 14th in class – a mighty effort in Taylor’s first ever appearance.
Fellow Australian and multiple Dakar winner Toby Price also had a tough event but still enjoyed an outright top 10 finish in the bikes.
The Queenslander had multiple issues throughout the two-week rally and although he was able to win the 10th stage, only two other top three stage finishes meant he was unable to add a third title to his name, as he finished 10th overall.