Molly Taylor Motorsport
Well that’s Rally GB done and dusted and I am very happy to finish our 2012 season on a high! We finished the rally 3rd in our class and the competition was very close and exciting. Having Rally Finland under our belt prior to GB was a good confidence boost heading into Wales and although only 2 stages from GB 2011 were used in the same configuration this year, it was still nice to have been in the area before and know the lay of the land.I was also looking forward to competing against Matthieu Arzeno and Sebastian Chardonnet. Both drivers are at the top level in the French Championship and have a lot of experience in the Citroen DS3. It is important for me to know how good my pace is and so to be able to compete against these guys was a great benchmark from that perspective.
As usual in Wales, the conditions were quite changeable, there was a fair bit of rain during the recce and rally. The first day was raining on and off, the first stage in particular was more slippery than we expected. Stage one was 20km long and I couldn't believe it when we got to the finish and our time was exactly the same as Matthieu Arzeno to the tenth of a second! SS3 was 27km and there was only 0.3 seconds between us - it was very exciting!! We finished the day after 145km of stages 2nd out of the DS3's with Arzeno in first and Sebastian Chardonnet in third.
Day two was mostly dry and we were even suffering from dust inside the car towards the end of the day! The stages were quite tricky in places, mostly dry and grippy but then some sections which were still damp undercover and very muddy. We were lucky on the fourth stage of the day when we slid wide and got a puncture. We dropped almost 3 minutes which put us back to third. I was disappointed, but our focus really was on stage times, so we still had plenty of rally left to continue to set times. We recovered well after that and were back on the pace again for the remaining stages.Sunday bought quite a bit more rain and some very very fast stages. We were at the limiter in sixth gear on narrow wet roads in places which was exciting.
We stayed with the same set up for the morning stages but then decided to go for the softer springs in the afternoon as a bit of a test and to try and improve the traction. It was raining for the last couple of stages so it was the right decision. We also won our first stage on Sunday.
At the end of the event Seb was awarded with the Michael Park Trophy and myself the Richard Burns Trophy as the highest places UK based non priority competitors. It was very special to receive these awards and add our names to an impressive list of recipients.
The guys from BP Racing had a great time over here (aside from the weather :) It is so nice to have such a supportive team who are 110% behind you. We have all been working hard since the rally program came together is it was great for us to all share in the excitement of the stage times over the weekend.
Pier Liberali from United Business also attended the event and we have begun our planning for 2013. Still a lot of work to do but things are moving forward well.. I can’t believe our program for 2012 is over already, it has gone so fast.. Its been an amazing experience and I am so grateful for all your support which has helped put this together. Whilst it has only been a few rallies, it has been very important as a foundation for next year and hopefully many more.
Below is a link to a compilation of footage from GB which Seb has put together, I hope you enjoy it!http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULEVcJoo7ac
In Molly’s blog earlier today she gave you a nice run down of how our event went. In case you haven’t heard or read below already, it was a fantastic rally for us – battling for the class lead and improving on our performance as we had set out to do – right up until we were forced to retire! It was a major disappointment but as the clichéd saying goes… ‘that’s Rallying’.
Anyway, some of the other goings on during our rally maybe didn’t make the cut for the press release, so here are a few choice bits.
Thanks to Rally-Xpress.dk and Camsports we’ve been capturing our rallying this year with some of their great little cameras. As the more technically minded one in the car it’s been my job to install and look after them. Leaving service one time we were discussing the best position for the camera and that we should move it around for the next stage. Looking at the road section there wasn’t much time spare so there was only one thing to do – set about changing the cameras around whilst driving along. My only instructions to Molly were to let me know when you see a Petrol Station on the left in about 15km. I had the trip running but was engrossed in moving clamps, cutting and re-installing cable ties and fine tuning the angle to get the best possible view all whilst travelling down the road at 80kmh. (Note: if you want to get a headache quickly this is a great way to achieve your aim!) A few checks with Molly about the petrol station, “No not yet” she would reply. I looked up briefly and spotted it, reset the trip and asked again. “Nope” came the reply. “Huh, that’s interesting…” I said, “…what about the one we just passed?!” I got a rather sheepish reply!
We’ll be uploading some video footage soon so make sure you check it out. In the mean time take a look at our Pre-Event Test.
One of the highlights had to be as we waited before the start of the famous Mökkiperä stage. As hundred of spectators streamed passed us, one in a small minibus slowed down. Expecting the usual cheer or wave from slightly inebriated rally fans we were taken aback when a head popped out of the window and said to Molly: “Go Flat Out! You are not down under now!” Those words of advice coming from non other than 1981 World Rally Champion and legend of the sport Ari Vatanen. A slightly star struck Molly put on her helmet and after that there was only one way to approach the next stage!
The team that is running the Citroën DS3 we’re in this year is BP Racing, a small but incredibly professional team from Italy. They are a great bunch of guys and we’ve had a lot of fun with them – some of the antics are maybe best saved for another end of season ‘Bits you didn’t see’ type post though! Whilst we are learning Italian, it's sometimes a bit of a struggle to get across exactly what you mean, so when all else fails we have resorted to drawing pictures! Nice to see that some things are universal in all language!
Rally Finland often includes some very long road sections, normally these would be a cause to dislike a rally, but the reward of the best stages in the world when you get to the end of them kind of counters that! Also this time we had come prepared… With the intercom in the car being able to connect to an iPhone we had people to talk to and music to listen to. Molly had prepared a Finland road section playlist, and whilst our music tastes don’t always agree, this was actually very good! The only problem was it was quite limited in size and so by the end of the first drive down to SS 1 we’d done two spins of this collection. Even the Shuffle function was getting bored and plumped for the same track on numerous occasions, so I think I will always associate Too Close by Alex Clare with the roads around Jyväskylä.
The rally is often affectionately referred to as the Rally of 1000 Lakes or The Gravel Grand Prix. The latter name certainly seemed apt as we agreed we’d never driven as fast or concentrated so hard on an event! This year saw the resurrection of one of, if not the most famous stage in Finland. At 33.01km Ouninpohja is the stuff of legend – notorious for it’s massive jumps and ridiculous speeds this truly is the greatest rollercoaster in the world. It’s the stage we’d been looking forward to more than any other – one to respect but thoroughly enjoy. Indeed it was a long-held ambition of mine to co-drive on it, as a video of Petter Solberg and Phil Mills smashing the stage record and averaging over 130 kph from 2004 was one of the main reasons I started rallying. Sadly we were denied the chance to drive it as the car had cried enough just one stage before, but there’s now unfinished business and I can’t wait to go back and have a proper attempt at it…
Til next time, CiaoSeb
Hi everyone,Well it has been a rollercoaster week in many ways! Last week we competed in our first gravel event with the Citroen DS3 at the WRC event in Finland. It was a fantastic experience and incredible stages. Unfortunately our event ended with a mechanical problem on the final day, however up until then everything was very positive and we were leading our class when we were forced to retire.I have to admit there were a little bit of nerves leading up to the event. I was really looking forward to getting back on the gravel, but to do our first gravel event with the car at a rally like Finland was a little daunting.. Thankfully we had a test arranged in Finland prior to the event. The road was an old stage from previous years, so very typical of what we would find on the rally. It took a few runs to understand just how much speed we could carry with the car, but after that everything clicked into place really well. We only tried a few small setup changes and instead my focus was on learning the car and getting confidence in it. We completed 100km so it was a very successful day!The event started on Thursday afternoon with three stages, one of which was run in darkness. Seb and I worked to our plan, taking a more conservative pace in the early stages to make sure we set a good foundation for the two long days ahead of us.
After day one we were in 4th position and very happy with that. To be honest I didn't know what to expect being our first event in these conditions, so was encouraged by our pace. The car felt good and we knew where we could push on more for the following day.On day three, the battle continued and we inherited 1st again after our rival, Sebastian Chardonett encountered a problem. However on the next stage the car dropped to 3 cylinders and we limped through the stage. After the stage we stopped to try and find the problem, however the damage to the coil and wiring was terminal and we were not able to continue. Obviously we were incredibly disappointed - particularly as the most iconic stage in Finland (Ouninpohja) was coming up and we had been looking forward to driving that stage all week! Sometimes these things are out of your control however we were encouraged by our performance over the weekend and still feel very positive about everything. The team were brilliant once again and very easy to work with. We were all excited to be in a battle over the weekend and very motivated to sort some unfinished business at the next event!Now to keep the momentum going like this :)
Thanks everyone for your support.
I am just back from Geko Ypres Rally in Belgium where we competed for the first time with our new team and car. It was definitely another jump right into the deep end, but a fantastic experience!The Citroen DS3 R3 which we will use for all the events with United Business & BP Racing Team is a big step up and a very exciting car to drive. It is very sophisticated, with a 1.6 turbo engine and the same paddle shift technology used in the Citroen C4 World Rally Car. There is a lot more scope in the set up of the car and I really enjoyed having this to work with and get a greater understanding of over the weekend.Ypres Rally is quite an iconic event and well known for its unique fast roads which run through crop fields and farming land. The surface is always changing and there are lots of square corners after long straights with big cuts. The service park is based in the market square in Ypres and the amount of crowds and spectators was unbelievable. I have never seen anything quite like it before. The event started at 5pm on Friday evening, and ran through until almost midnight. It then re-started the following day, again finishing around midnight.To be honest, we had a difficult start to the event. Having been out of the car for so long I was eager to start where I left off, however there were a lot of new things to learn with the car, combined with the specialised nature of the rally, and also getting back into the rhythm after such a long break! I made a judgement error on the first stage on a very fast corner with a big cut. We hit a bump which I didn't have in my pacenotes which spun us into a ditch. We were able to continue, but lost some time, so that wasn't an ideal way to begin. From there we focused on building the pace over the stages as we learnt more about the car and grew in confidence. The rate of learning and improvement was very steep, but only the beginning of what we have ahead of us. As difficult as it was to start the program on an event like this, I'm glad we had the challenge because we learnt a lot more in the process.
The team are fantastic, very competent, professional and good to work with. It's very nice to be in a position to work with a dedicated team and feel like a mini 'factory driver'. The environment is very positive. The next event planned is the Coppa Citta di Lucca, which is a night time rally in Tuscany, Italy on the 21st July. The event starts at 11pm and finishes at 9am the following day! We are hoping to get out to Italy a few days early to have a small test beforehand. The team are also organising a big dinner with the local car clubs and I think they are expecting a big turn out. I now have some extra work ahead to try and learn some Italian!
Photo by Thibault Lefebvre
Well it has certainly been a while since I have last written!! Although it has been a while between rallies it has been a very very busy time behind the scenes trying to put a program together. I am extremely excited to now be in a position to have the program confirmed and be able to announce something!
With the support of United Business Racing, Seb & I will compete in Ypres Rally, Coppa Citta di Lucca Rally, Rally Finland and Rally Deutschland in a Citroen DS3 R3 run by BP Racing in Italy. This is a massive opportunity for me to progress my driving and to also work directly with a professional team. There is a lot more to learn with the new car and Ypres will be a brand new event for me, so at the moment it is all about gaining experience to move forward with the team in the future. It’s funny how things come about - how one conversation can lead to another, to a meeting, to many many more meetings and then here we are – a program confirmed with United Business in a Citroen DS3!
I am actually writing this blog on the aeroplane heading back from Italy, where I completed around 100km of testing in the car. I also had the opportunity to spend the afternoon in the BP Racing workshop going over the car and technical information. The set up was surreal and it was a valuable opportunity for me to get some good mileage in the car and try different set ups, springs, roll bars etc. It was great to have so many things to try and feel, there is so much more scope to learn and adapt in the set up to get the most out of the car. I felt really comfortable in the car, it is just a case of getting your head around what it is capable of. The paddle shift is awesome – so so cool! Fabrizia Pons and Vittorio Caneva were also at the test, which again was really valuable, and I really appreciate their involvement. To be honest it felt like a mini works team. I am still pinching myself!
Now I have some extra homework to learn more Italian – so far I can say hello, good bye, thank you and tea. I am learning reasonably quickly how to decipher a menu but dinner is always interesting!! The people are incredibly friendly and welcoming, I love the culture (possibly because it largely revolves around food). After the test we had dinner with Pier Liberali, the owner of United Business in a small town near Milan. Dinner lasted from about 8.30 pm until midnight and there were people and market stalls all up the main street with an incredible atmosphere – on a Wednesday night!
Of course there a lot more people making this new adventure possible and its fantastic to have the continued support from the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission, AMSF, Whiteline, Vittorio Caneva Rally School and the Supporters Group. I am also looking forward to our new partnership with Rally Express & Camsports.
We are also in the final stages of preparing an exciting new promotion and I can’t wait to launch. More on that soon..
So, after a long and often frustrating start to the year, I cannot wait to get back in the car and keep moving forward!!
Hi everyone, welcome to my Blog