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Molly Taylor Ready For Southern Lights Rally Start

Pre-event shakedown: Australia’s Molly Taylor and co-driver Andy Sarandis put the Castrol backed H6 Subaru Impreza through its paces in preparations for their first ever event in New Zealand – the Transport World Southern Lights Rally. Photo Tayler Burke.

Australia’s Molly Taylor is set to fulfil her bucket list wish of contesting an event in New Zealand as she prepares to start the Transport World Southern Lights Rally on Friday evening, 21 June.

The Extreme E Champion (2021) and 2016 Australian Rally Champion will compete with co-driver Andy Sarandis in a Castrol-backed Subaru H6 Impreza over the fast and flowing roads across the Southland region.

At a pre-event shakedown, Taylor got her first run in the car, which is themed similarly to the 1990s Castrol-backed Impreza of Vanessa Evans (nee Slee).

“It put a massive smile on my face when I first took off – and it sounds incredible too. I think we are in for a lot of fun,” said Taylor about her first impressions.

“We had a short couple of laps to get a taste of everything, and it all went well. It is very different from the car we race in Australia, and there is a lot for me to get used to being a stock car and gearbox. There are processes to learn to get myself up to speed.”

As the pair have never contested an event in New Zealand before, this rally also serves as valuable preparation for their current Australian Rally Championship aspirations.

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“A rally in New Zealand was always something I looked forward to and was on my bucket list to come and drive on these roads. So, when the opportunity came up, I was very quick to say yes and take it on.

“There are a lot of new things for me this weekend, but I am very excited to be here with this opportunity and drive these famous roads we hear so much about. To be here and on the ground, it is pretty special.”

For her co-driver Andy Sarandis, it is equally a dream-come-true opportunity:

“I am looking forward to having a run in the Castrol car. It sounds great. While I’ve been here before, heard them, and seen them running, the combination of great stages and the car is going to be mega – it’s going to be great fun.”

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

Based in the host city of Invercargill, the rally begins at the Bill Richardson Transport World museum at 5pm, with competitors heading to the Pebbly Hills forest stage – in the dark.

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.


Molly and Andy are one of 65 cars entered for the rally with Hayden Paddon/Jared Hudson as first car. The event is also a round of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship (NZRC).

Following reconnaissance on the Friday the teams will assembled with their cars and convoy in groups through the main street of Invercargill from approximately 3:30pm (assembling from 3:15pm at Mitre 10). They will then be led to Inglewood St and the entrance to Transport World.

The ceremonial start begins at 4pm with cars brought in by group (to be under cover) with the first car departing at 5pm (Hayden Paddon).

The cars will leave Transport World at minute intervals. After SS1 they return to Invercargill for the overnight Parc Ferme.

Saturday’s final stage and ceremonial finish is at Teretonga Park. The final stage uses part of the spectator road around the circuit and part of the circuit for a 50/50 gravel/tarmac combo. The finish podium will be held on the in-field, outside the clubrooms, from 5pm.

© Scoop Media

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