Molly Taylor claims historic ARC title
Molly Taylor has made history by clinching the Australian Rally Championship title in dramatic circumstances at the Kennards Hire Rally Australia finale at Coffs Harbour.
Taylor won the rally to become the first female to win the ARC title since the national rallying series began in 1968.
The championship was only decided after a post rally penalty was issued to the event’s on the road winner Mark Pedder and Dale Moscatt.
However, Speedcafe.com understands that Pedder may be mounting a protest which would be lodged once the results become official at 7pm.
Pedder and Moscatt were awarded a one minute penalty for checking in early on the final Wedding Bells stage which proved pivotal in the outcome of the three-way title shootout with Simon Evans (Subaru) and Harry Bates (Toyota Corolla).
Evans had been in the box seat to win the ARC crown if Pedder had not been penalised.
However, the penalty promoted Taylor and experienced co-driver Bill Hayes to the win.
The Subaru pair ended with a two point advantage over Evans with overnight leaders Bates and John McCarthy (Toyota Corolla) in third.
As an added bonus Taylor finished as the top Australian runner in the WRC overall results coming home in 14th.
“I can confirm today that dreams really do come true,” said Taylor.
“Talk about taking it down to the wire. We knew we had to give it everything on those last two stages after a really consistent run all weekend and we pushed so hard.
“And then to get the news that there was a possible penalty for Mark, it was like being on a rollercoaster.
“Bill, Les Walkden and the team have done an amazing job all year and it’s such a pleasure to work with a truly professional outfit that has an amazing team spirit.
“We’re so pleased to be able to do it for Subaru too, with their incredible rally heritage.”
All three title contenders endured dramas during a title battle that was on a knife edge throughout the event.
Evans dominated the opening day before he suffered two punctures through the marathon 50.8km Nambucca stage that dropped him of rally contention on Saturday. The Subaru WRX Sti pair ended up sixth for the event.
Taylor also battled with an overheating Subaru during the final two days.
This had put Bates in the box seat to take the title although his hopes suffered a severe blow when he was stricken with a puncture on the 31.9km Bucca stage.
The heart-breaking flat cost the son of four-times Australian Rally Champion Neal Bates, victory in an cruel blow which dropped him to third in the event and the championship.