August 31: Molly Taylor to take on Dakar again in 2023

Aussie female motorsport legend Molly Taylor has confirmed a busy end to the year announcing she’ll be taking on Dakar again in 2023.

The racing champ said she’ll also be racing in this year’s Rally du Maroc in October too.

“I’m so excited to be heading back into the desert and taking on Dakar again as well as Rally du Maroc as part of my ongoing partnership with the Can-Am Factory South Racing team,” Molly said.

“My first experience in Dakar was one I’ll never forget, but this year is all about achieving the results that I know I can. And having the continued support of the Can-Am Factory South Racing – a five-time Dakar winning team – gives me the confidence that we have everything in place to allow me to perform at my best.”

“Molly’s an integral part of the Can-Am Factory South Racing team, and with one Dakar now under her belt, and the team’s ongoing support, I can’t wait to see what she can do in the desert come January 1,” added the CEO of South Racing, Scott Abraham.

Read all about Molly’s last Dakar experience in our interview below.

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February 6: Molly speaks to Wheels about first Dakar experience

World champion racer Molly Taylor has vowed to take on the Dakar Rally again, despite calling the 2022 event one of the “most emotional experiences” she’s ever had.

The 33-year-old became the first Australian woman to ever take on the Dakar, which took place in Saudi Arabia last month, placing 14th in the SSV class with co-driver Dale Moscatt and the Can-Am Factory South Racing squad.

Starting in Ha’il, Saudi Arabia, on January 2, 2022’s rally was made up of 13 stages taking place in the Arabian Peninsula over as many days, and involved racers venturing into the ‘empty quarter’ – a desert nearly the size of France.

On her return to Australia, Molly caught up with Wheels for a behind the scenes run down on what the endurance race was like.

“It was an amazing adventure, I went through pretty much all the emotions in the space of those two weeks,” she says. “But I would love to do it again – that’s certainly the plan I’m working towards.

“It was tough though, on average we did between 350 kilometres and 475kms per section on the stage, with road sections in between. We were in the car all day every day.

“There were some good stages where everything went well, and others that were full of problems – and it’s up to you to fix it at the side of the road. It’s an endurance event, you do what you have to do to make it through, everything depends on it.

“At times we were running in 3rd to 5th, which felt great – as we wanted to show we were competitive with the other crews. Our first few stages went to plan, which was encouraging. But there were so many elements to work around – the length of the stages, the difference in the terrain, the navigation (which is basically orienteering in the middle of the desert). There are just so many things to think about.”

Unfortunately for Molly and teammate Dale, a brake failure caused a fire, setting the pair back, despite their quick actions to quench the flames with an onboard camelback supply of water – but they did manage to make it to the finish in order to complete the race.

“You need to know when to push and when to look after the car, but I made some rookie errors, which cost us a lot of time, because I am massively lacking experience,” Molly admits.

“It’s a fresh style of rallying for me, everything was new about it. The navigation was one of the hardest things, because in the middle of the desert you’re trying to pick your way through different terrains, choose the best lines through the biggest dunes you’ve ever seen.

“It was the toughest challenge of Dakar, as it’s got the most difficult terrain, and you’re trying to balance speed and risk over the whole of the two weeks. So if you do make a mistake and you lose a few hours, you start at the back of the field – meaning it’s really important to manage the impact quickly.”

Keeping a cool head under pressure was essential for Sydney-born Molly, who entered the Dakar fresh off the back of winning another world championship in the inaugural Extreme E in December with fellow driver Johan Kristofferson.

“Maintaining my mental strength when things were not going well was hard, but really important,” she explains. “The variables of a short stage were completely different to a long one, and trying to predict what might, or might not, happen was impossible.

“We just had to go out every day and deal with what was thrown at us, try to keep a level head and stay sharp for 14 days. It’s unlike anything I’m used to – it was a completely different mental challenge because of the length and terrain of the course.”

Although Molly was the first Australian woman to compete in the Dakar, she certainly wasn’t alone this year when it came to having female company. Of the more than 500 people participating, there were 18 women – showing it’s no longer just for the boys.

“There were quite a lot of females competing this year, some I know from Extreme E so there were some familiar faces. It was great to see more and more at these events. We had three female drivers in our team,” she says.

“More generally though, it was just a very cool atmosphere. It’s like rallying – everybody is out going as fast as they can, battling the elements, but not each other. Because of how far apart you are, there’s no shouting or tension because someone cut you off or whatever.

“We’d sit around at night sharing stories, good or bad. You’ve got people from everywhere across the world from different backgrounds – there are so many unique perspectives.”

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