Molly Tay­lor: Rally driver.

Molly Tay­lor, 29, rally driver 2016 CAMS Aus­tralian Rally Cham­pion, 2015 Peter Brock Medal win­ner

The Saturday Paper - - Contents - Richard Cooke

In rally driv­ing, you’re al­ways go­ing by the seat of your pants. In cir­cuit rac­ing, you know down to the mi­crosec­ond what you should be do­ing. We’re winging it a lot more. There’s a lot less con­trol.

You are do­ing ev­ery cor­ner ef­fec­tively for the first time. Lis­ten­ing to the co-driver, trust­ing the notes that you’ve writ­ten – but then we don’t know specif­i­cally the brak­ing point for ev­ery cor­ner. You have your pace notes, which is a de­scrip­tion of how fast you think the road is, but when you get there…

The grip is dif­fer­ent de­pend­ing on the time of day, or whether or not there’s been rain. In the last rally a kan­ga­roo jumped down in front of me. That’s ob­vi­ously some­thing that you’re not pre­pared for. I guess it’s just that vari­abil­ity. It’s much more in­con­sis­tent.

We hit the kan­ga­roo un­for­tu­nately. Dis­ap­point­ing.

You’re al­ways slid­ing to some de­gree. It’s just a mat­ter of con­trol­ling the car and the an­gle, and be­ing in charge of how much you’re slid­ing.

Driv­ing on ice – that’s prob­a­bly the most fun con­di­tions for driv­ing you can have any­where. I had the op­por­tu­nity to do some train­ing on a frozen lake. It’s the per­fect en­vi­ron­ment to test the lim­its of the car. If you push it be­yond those lim­its, you’ll just go into a soft snow bank. It was a few years ago now and an in­cred­i­ble ex­pe­ri­ence. It’s def­i­nitely on my bucket list to do a race on snow.

Drift­ing is def­i­nitely as fun as it looks. I re­mem­ber driv­ing a rally car on gravel for the first time – it wasn’t with the in­ten­tion to take it up as a sport. My par­ents were in­volved, and my dad was run­ning a rally school at the time. I was about 15 or 16. My dad took my sis­ter and I out to the rally school to drive the cars. He purely wanted it as a driver-train­ing ex­er­cise. He wanted to make sure we were com­pe­tent driv­ers. That was the idea be­hind it all, but when I ex­pe­ri­enced the thrill of driv­ing a rally car on gravel… It opened my eyes up to a world of pos­si­bil­i­ties. I never stopped.

My par­ents did joke about it. “Couldn’t you have taken up golf? Or ten­nis? Or some­thing that is a bit fi­nan­cially eas­ier to get in­volved in, where there are more op­por­tu­ni­ties?” Mo­tor­sport is a re­ally cruel and tough sport. You have to go in with your eyes open to that. Hav­ing so many years and so much suc­cess in the sport, they were fully aware of all those ups and downs.

The worst bit about mo­tor­sport is the fi­nan­cials. You have to be tal­ented, ob­vi­ously, but it’s not the kind of sport where, say, the fastest run­ner will win the race, whether they’ve got nice clothes or not. In mo­tor­sport, you have to have the tal­ent but, also, you have to have the money.

It’s def­i­nitely not fair. There are lots of driv­ers who may have never got to show what they were ca­pa­ble of, be­cause they couldn’t get the money to­gether. Then there are prob­a­bly other driv­ers out there who had more fund­ing and less tal­ent.

I drive a WRX STI on the road, the same model as my rally car. This one is just a stock stan­dard car; it’s owned by Subaru Aus­tralia. They are the same, but in such dif­fer­ent en­vi­ron­ments. In the rally car, you’ve got all your gear on. You’re in the mode. On the way to the shops, you’re not in that headspace. Be­sides, when you’re in com­pe­ti­tion you can get it all out of your sys­tem. There’s not that same de­sire to do it on the road. Plus, if I lost my li­cence, I wouldn’t be able to rally, so, if noth­ing else, that’s a bloody good in­cen­tive to not be an id­iot on the road.

The adren­a­line is the same ev­ery time. It never gets bor­ing. Be­cause it is al­ways slightly dif­fer­ent, and you’re al­ways try­ing to push that limit. You’ve got a bunch of other com­peti­tors who are all push­ing as hard as they can.

When you ab­so­lutely nail a cor­ner, and get to the point where it’s al­most like the car is danc­ing on top of the road… That’s my favourite part of a race. Turn­ing in re­ally early, go­ing through the cor­ner side­ways, and then the car is ab­so­lutely straight com­ing out of the exit, then you’re early and pinned on the throt­tle – nail­ing that ex­pe­ri­ence, feel­ing that you’re mak­ing it do ex­actly what you want: it couldn’t have gone around that cor­ner faster.

I have dreams about ral­ly­ing all the time. It’s pretty sad. Nor­mally be­fore a rally, you will have bizarre dreams, about some lit­tle thing you need to check or go over.

RICHARD COOKE is a jour­nal­ist and writer for tele­vi­sion. He is The Satur­day Pa­per’s sports edi­tor.

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