Two young Australian women are set to star on the international stage as they prepare for their debut in the World Rally Championship.
Sydneysider Molly Taylor, 22, was one of the standouts in the Pirelli Star Driver Shootout that was run in Spain in late October last year, with 16 promising young drivers lining up for a chance to follow their dream of a career in the Formula One of gravel racing.
At stake were six places in the FIA World Rally Championship Academy, a specially tailored training program and one-make rally sub-series aimed at developing young drivers and providing them with a passage through to the elite levels of the sport.
Taylor won one place, and young Victorian driver, Brendan Reeves, won another. Now Taylor has chosen another young Australian woman as her co-driver for this exciting adventure.
Rebecca Smart, 24, from Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, was second outright last year in the Australian Rally Championship, as co-driver (*see footnote) to her brother Ryan. They also won the Kumho Tyres’ Future Champions Award. Now she will partner Taylor in a hectic schedule which includes six rounds of the world championship and selected rounds of the British and European rally series.
“I am really excited to have Bec on board,” says Taylor, who began driving rally cars just five years ago after years of training as a cross-country event horse rider.
“For sure it will be great to have an all-girl team, but more importantly she is just as determined as I am with the same ambitions. We are both committed to focus 100 per cent on this year in the WRC Academy. That is very important to me and why I am confident it will work well.
“From the little time we have spent in a car together things are very positive and I am looking forward to getting started on an event. We get along really well and have a lot in common so we have a good basis to work from.”
For her part, Smart is also excited about the new partnership. Taylor heads back to the UK this weekend to start preparing for her first WRC round in Portugal in March. Smart will follow in a month’s time, after packing up her job as a vet nurse and her life in Australia – leaving her brother to find someone else for the passenger seat for this year’s Australian series.
“I’m really excited to be joining Molly in an all-girl team,” Smart says.
“I believe we are extremely compatible, and I’m looking forward to expanding my co-driving experience. The WRC Academy is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I’m definitely up for the challenge.”
Taylor began rallying in 2005 and moved to the UK two years ago (she has dual citizenship) to be closer to the top levels of the sport and pursue her dream of a career as a professional driver.
She began posting solid results immediately, taking third in the Citroën Racing Trophy (a one-make sub-series of the British Rally Championship) with several round wins to her credit, fourth outright in the British Junior Rally Championship and being awarded as British Ladies Rally Champion in 2009 and 2010.
She competes with financial support from the Australian Motor Sport Foundation and several personal sponsors, as well as her income from her fulltime job in customer sales for M-Sport, a specialist motorsport company which builds and runs rally cars for professional and privateer competitors.
Smart started watching rallying at the age of 12 with her brother before the pair launched themselves into the sport in 2007 with a car they bought on eBay! They started out in small local events before stepping into progressively faster cars to compete in the state (Queensland) and national rally series.
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In rallying terminology, a co-driver works with the driver to write coded instructions about the route they will travel in an event. During the competition, it will be Smart’s job to call those notes back to Taylor, effectively providing her with a ‘mind picture’ of what lies ahead, so she can drive as fast and efficiently as possible.
Rally crews are timed against the clock over a series of high-speed sections (‘special stages) with the event winner having the shortest total time. Crews are not pitted one car directly up against the other as they would be on the racetrack; they usually start the special stage at one or two-minute intervals.
Molly Taylor Motorsport
For more information on Molly Taylor, please see her website: www.mollytaylor.com.au
Media Relations Manager – Molly Taylor Motorsport
phone: (+61 2) 9771 1277
mobile: 0417 232 643
email: [email protected]
Liz Swanton, Media Relations Manager – Molly Taylor Motorsport
P: (+61 2) 9771 1277
M: 0417 232 643