It feels like quite some time since Taylor Gill secured a landmark milestone in his career, winning the FIA Rally Star Asia-Pacific Final in India in October last year.
One of 40 drivers from seven different countries to take part in the regional rally selection program, Gill was deemed to be the best of the group and was selected to represent the Asia Pacific region in the international FIA Rally Star Training Season, which will include six rallies in an M-Sport Ford Fiesta Rally3.
Having moved to Finland earlier this year where he will base himself for the gruelling campaign, the New South Welshman has been hard at work in preparing for his once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Now with the official calendar Rally Star Training Season announced, rally.com.au caught up with Gill to touch base about the move.
Now that the calendar has been set for your season, is it becoming a reality of what’s happening?
Taylor Gill: Absolutely. I’m incredibly lucky to have this opportunity that so many others wish they had, so we have to appreciate it, but on the other hand it’s simply another step towards the top of the sport and we have to do our absolute best to prove our worth. Honestly, I can’t wait to get started.
How does it feel to be over there at the moment?
TG: It’s pretty surreal and I just can’t believe it’s finally happening. It’s nice to know that the many months of planning and thinking about it has all been worth it.
Why did you choose to live in Finland and how is that helping you in your prep?
TG: It all came down to people we knew and doors it could open. Finland is a nice place and they go mad for rallying here, so it makes sense to base ourselves here.
The village we’re living in is quite a sporty town, so there’s plenty of resources to help us out with physical training in particular. There is also plenty of motorsport happening here, so we’ve had some cool opportunities to go for rides with some of the locals as well as get our hands on the Fiesta Rally 3 car.
And the roads in Finland are totally unique with fast demanding jumps and roller-coaster stages, so it’s been a really good learning experience so far.
So, what has your prep been like since you moved over?
TG: With so many fantastic Rally roads nearby, we’ve been doing lots of recce training and practice trying to gain a good knowledge and understanding of how to write good pace notes on these styles of roads which we don’t have in Australia. We have also been jumping at every opportunity to be present at local test days.
Outside of rallying, what are you doing in Finland to pass the time?
TG: We’ve been here just over a month now and although we haven’t been working thus far, it’s still been pretty busy setting ourselves up and sorting our lives out. It’s been a huge effort with lots of meetings and appointments to put all the correct permits in place, but it’s starting to come together now and we’re very excited.
What are the expectations for the season and what are you hoping for?
TG: Well of course my main goal and main priority is to be retained for the FIA Junior World Rally Championship season next year, but I’m expecting strong competition from the other competitors.
At the end of the day, we’ve been selected from a pool of thousands so I have no doubt the competition will be fierce and we welcome the challenge, however we want to be the fastest and that is our clear goal.
Speaking of that fierce competition, do you know much about those you’re up against?
TG: I know of the three other winners who have been picked already and they come from a mixed background of experiences, while there are still two more to be selected. Ultimately the jury who will pick the winner will really know what they’re looking for, so I’m expecting that even those with less experience will still be very fast
Do you think the last season in the ARC will put you in good stead?
TG: Most definitely, I gained a lot of experience last year and my pace increased greatly from the opening round in Canberra to the final round in Coffs Harbour. It’s no secret I love the ARC and it’s taught me a lot, so hopefully we can put that experience to good use.
Is there anything else you’d like to add about this opportunity?
TG: It really is a pinch yourself kind of opportunity, and although I’m incredibly lucky and grateful to be in this position, I know it’s a culmination of hard work and dedication.
There is no doubt that it’s going to be a big adjustment. I love Australia and I love competing in Australia – whether it’s a local rallysprint or an ARC event.
Being on the other side of the world driving factory-built and run machinery will be a big change, but it’s all part of the game. I just can’t wait to get properly behind the wheel and show the rest of the world what us Aussies are made of.
FIA Rally Star Training Season Calendar
21 May – 1 June: Sardinia training camp
16 – 17 June: Rally San Marino – Gravel
13 – 15 July: Rallye Weiz – Tarmac
22 – 24 September: Rally Nova Gorcia – Tarmac
6 – 7 October: Rally Saarema – Gravel
20 – 21 October: Rally RACC – Gravel
9 – 11 November: Lausitz Rallye – Gravel