Molly Anne Taylor couldn’t be blamed for wanting a breather from the fast and furious world of rally car racing after winning the Extreme E title with Johan Kristofferson in Dorset the week before Christmas. However, it is all systems go with preparations for the big one—the Dakar Rally.
Taylor has a fondness for the month of January. She recalls watching the Dakar Rally with her motorsport-obsessed family when she was a child.
“For as long as I can remember, every single January, the Dakar was like a religion in our house, I kept thinking: ‘One day I’m going to do it. But, for so long, it was like this far-fetched dream.” Taylor said.
Taylor’s ambition is about to come true at the age of 33, when she will compete in the world’s most grueling endurance race as the first Australian woman.
“[The] Dakar is always something which has been on the bucket list, a dream of mine for a long time,” Taylor tells DirtFish.
Taylor will compete as part of the Can-Am Factory South Racing squad, where they will compete in 13 stages across the Arabian Peninsula, which is nearly the size of France.
The Extreme E is an off-road racing series that pits electric SUVs against each other in isolated parts of the world affected by climate change in order to raise awareness and promote sustainability. It’s also the first race to include mixed teams, with men and women taking equal turns behind the wheel.
The extreme series, which premiered in the Saudi Arabian desert, provided Taylor with the ideal platform for the Dakar rally.
Two female Saudi Arabian drivers will race in the Dakar Rally for the first time in the event’s 44-year history. Although there are still numerous worries about women’s human rights in the country, Taylor believes that the participation of Mashael Al-Obaidan and Dania Akeel is a significant step forward.
“I think it’s fantastic to see that transformation and to give women the chance to show that they can perform the job just as well, I had the opportunity to race with them recently in a smaller event in Saudi and they’re just awesome” she remarked.
“They’re great drivers, fun to be around and what they’re doing for females in Saudi is very inspiring.”
After placing third at the Junior World Rally Championships in Finland in 2014, she became the first female to finish on the podium.
Taylor was given the renowned Peter Brock Medal a year later, and in 2016, she became the first female—and the youngest—driver to win the Australian Rally Championship.
Subaru exited the Australian Rally Championship at the end of the 2019 season, however Taylor remains a Subaru Australia ambassador.
“Being the youngest to win it at the time was very wonderful, and being able to disseminate that message to young girls has been great from a visibility viewpoint,” she said.
Just winning the championship was a huge accomplishment for Taylor.
“Whether I was the first, fifth, or hundredth woman to do it, I don’t believe that diminishes my own success.”
Taylor is a natural rally driver
Mark Taylor, a former championship rally driver, is her father. Coral, her mother, is a four-time Australian rally champion co-driver, and Norm Fritter, her late grandfather, was also a rally driver.
Taylor is proud of her racing heritage, but it is her mother who has had the most influence on her.
“Mom would go to work,” Taylor explained, “which included driving to the opposite side of the country and tearing around in a forest.”
“As a child, I just assumed that was normal and what other mothers did.”
Molly Taylor, who is now inspiring a new generation of followers, is always thinking about the woman who paved the path for her.
“Through Mom’s example, I learned stereotypes don’t matter because, once you’re in the car, it becomes irrelevant what gender you are.”