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Molly Taylor to contest Southern Lights Rally on 21 June

Australia’s gravel racing star Molly Taylor will make her New Zealand debut in the Transport World Southern Lights Rally later this month.

The rally kicks off on Friday night, 21 June 2024, from Invercargill and covers 157km of special stages through the nation’s Southland region.

Taylor, the inaugural Extreme E Champion (2021)and 2016 Australian Rally Champion, will compete with co-driver Andy Sarandis in a Castrol-backed Subaru H6 Impreza.

“I’m really excited to be part of the crew and compete on some of the iconic New Zealand roads that everyone in rallying raves about,” Taylor says. “It has been a dream to have it come together – from the timing to Castrol being able to support me getting there.”

Taylor is very grateful for the groundswell of support from New Zealand that helped make the package come together, saying so many people had worked so hard to make it happen.

“Everything has come together so smoothly – from the organising of the Magnum Motorsport car through to the entry. Andy and I are both looking forward to the challenge of the dark and winter conditions while being in such an amazing location I’ve only ever heard about. It’s going to be a great experience driving on the open and fast roads, with long stages and also in the dark! I can’t wait.”

Taylor, who featured in the final group of the 2020 edition of SAS Australia, has had an extensive international career that includes achievements such as becoming the British Ladies Rally Champion two years in a row, winning a scholarship to compete in the WRC after an international shoot-out, and winning the inaugural FIA European Rally Championship Ladies’ Trophy. She has also contested the famous Dakar Rally twice.

Along with her testing commitments in Europe ahead of the next round of the Extreme E series, her calendar also includes the Bosch Motorsport Australian Rally Championship. The pair currently lead the production category, with the series’ third round a week after Southern Lights.

“It’s going to be a week of contrasts from the depths of southern New Zealand to the warmth of Queensland. I’m very grateful to have these opportunities,” Taylor added. “From the time zone and climate differences of Europe, New Zealand, and then Queensland, it’s a pretty special way to live a life.”

Additional support to pull the program together has come from Universal Sign Company, Riverside Rentals and building supply group Dayle ITM.

Following pre-event reconnaissance on Thursday and Friday, the pair’s journey begins at 4pm at the iconic Bill Richardson Transport World in Invercargill. The undercover ceremonial start will see them head into the dark for the first special stage in the Pebbly Hills Forest region.

The competition resumes Saturday morning with a further nine special stages, including two service stops at the township of Winton. The journey then heads west to Tuatapere before returning to Invercargill for the event’s final stage at the Teretonga race circuit. This stage, a combination of gravel and tarmac, will bring them to the track-side ceremonial finish at 5pm.

Daylight hours for the weekend – the shortest of the year – are from 8:31am to 5:05pm.

Entry to the Transport World ceremonial start is available for a $10 donation to charity at the door. Spectator entry for both the Pebbly Hills night stage and the ceremonial finish is also $10. Kids under 14 are free. Tickets can be purchased in advance from Invercargill’s Transport World, E Hayes & Sons, Auto Centre, and Harrison Supplies in Gore, or directly at the gate.

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