SUBARU do Motorsport team driver Molly Taylor has become the first female winner of the Australian Rally Championship (ARC) after the tightest title tussle in 25 years.
A brilliant three-day campaign at Rally Australia in the All-Wheel Drive Group N production class WRX STI NR4 saw Molly join the distinguished list of ARC champions after a great run across 23 stages at Coffs Harbour in NSW.
Calling the corners for Molly was co-driver Bill Hayes, of Perth, who took out the co-driver title.
The title came after rally leader Mark Pedder incurred a one-minute penalty in his Peugeot 208 Maxi, which put the Molly Taylor/Bill Hayes Subaru WRX STI on top of the leaderboard.
The win adds to the Subaru Australia trophy cabinet, where 10 consecutive ARC titles from 1996 to 2005 made an unbeaten benchmark before the team withdrew from domestic rallying, only re-emerging this year under the Subaru do Motorsport banner.
“Talk about taking it down to the wire,” a delighted Molly said.
“We knew we had to give it everything on those last two stages and we pushed so hard.
Subaru Australia managing director Colin Christie was almost as excited as Molly and Bill.
“We’re ecstatic with this result on so many levels,” he said.
“It’s wonderful for Molly to not only win the drivers championship, but also become the first female to do so, and we’re honoured to have such a fantastic role model to inspire young people.
“Equally, we’re proud of Bill in taking out the co-drivers championship. Together, they worked as a wonderful partnership throughout the season and it’s a great credit to them that they have seized their respective titles.”
Pedder placed second, with Harry Bates third in a Corolla S2000.
n In the concurrently run World Rally Championship, Norway’s Andreas Mikkelsen secured a fine farewell for Volkswagen, which is withdrawing from the WRC, in winning Rally Australia.
Mikkelsen fought off a strong challenge from world champion teammate Sebastien Ogier, who finished second, with Thierry Neuville third for Hyundai.
The extremely popular world championship was run in WA from 1989 to 2006, and put WA in the global spotlight.