Entering the Dakar Rally for the first time is no small task. Australian rally driver Molly Taylor is ready and up for the challenge. We caught up with Molly between races in Melbourne, Australia.
For those who may not know who you are, tell us a little about yourself and where you’re from.
MT: Well, I’m born and raised in Sydney, with 4 years in boarding school in country NSW. I’m now living in Melbourne by the beach, but really spend most of my time on the road these days. I love being outside, exploring and taking on things that challenge me. I usually have 1000 different projects on the go, but don’t think I’d have it any other way. I’m very lucky to have a close family and I love spending as much time with them as possible when I am in the country.
What led you into racing, specifically off-road racing?
MT: I’m a third generation rally driver and my parents met through rallying. My mum is 4 time Australian rally champion co-driver, so she was a big influence on my career. However, I only started rallying when I was about 16 after visiting the rally school my Dad was running at the time. After my first taste of driving on gravel, I was hooked! I’ve always loved watching the Dakar rally, but only really got involved in off-road properly through Extreme E.
We know that you just finished up your first cross country rally, what was that experience like?
MT: It was absolutely incredible! The first few days were pretty eye-opening as it is just so different to what I am used to, especially when I saw the size of the sand dunes in Abu Dhabi. The sensation of driving through the dunes was just so much fun and I loved the adventure and challenge of such long stages. It really was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, and I have to say I’m hooked already.
Any moments that really stood out during that rally? We want it all, the good, the bad, the stressful…
MT: I think Day 2 really stood out because that was when we first encountered the big dunes. They seemed like the size of mountains, and it totally takes your breath away. The first few big dune crossings were stressful! I was so impressed with how capable the Can-Am was climbing them and after that I really started to enjoy it. Also just driving through the terrain was unreal, so many times there was just nothing but dunes as far as you could see in every direction and it really felt like you were on another planet – or sometimes your only company was a few camels!
How does racing in Australia compare to what you’ve experienced so far racing in the middle east?
MT: It’s been so different. To be out in the desert, on sand, is unlike any of the rallying I’ve done before in Australia. Although the great thing about motorsport is that despite where you are, one thing that always feels the same is the camaraderie amongst the crews involved. In that way it felt like coming into another home away from home.
So now we have Dakar coming up next, and it’s your very first Dakar, how are you feeling going into it?
MT: All the feels! I’m so excited, but for sure there are some nerves too. I think it still feels a bit surreal because it’s been this bucket list dream for so long, but never with any kind of realistic date. And now it feels like it’s all come together relatively quickly, so I don’t think it’s fully sunk in yet.
Anything special you’re doing to prepare for such a long race?
MT: I always train a lot for Extreme E and rally, however focusing on heat adaption and endurance training will be more of a focus. The biggest area of preparation for me will be taking what I learnt in Abu Dhabi and applying that in Ha’il rally, as these competition miles are invaluable given, I have so much to learn in a short space of time.
If you could use 1 word to explain what preparing for Dakar is like, what would that word be?
Do you ever have to explain to friends or family members what you do for a living?
Most of my friends & family have a pretty good idea, but probably a simple way to explain it would be like driving a rollercoaster without tracks!
Off-road racing is certainly a category of its own. How would you explain what it’s like to someone who has never experienced it.
MT: Trying to get from A to B in an unknown, loose grip, ever changing environment as fast as you can. The biggest and best adrenaline buzz/adventure you can imagine.
Anything else you’d love to share with us?
MT: Just thank you for welcoming me into the team and this all really does feel like a dream come true!
Thanks so much for chatting with us today Molly, and best of luck at Dakar! We’ll be rooting for you!