As announed in our previous article, we now kick off a new series – Extreme E Female Drivers’ Series (see our exclusive interview with Mr. Alejandro Agag to learn more about the all new electric off-road racing series). On the 5th of each month, we give you a featured interview from each of the female drivers in Extreme E. Today on March 5th, we give you Molly Taylor.
Photos © Extreme E unless otherwise noted
In October 2020, not long before the virtual launch of Extreme E, it was announced that F1 World Champion Nico Rosberg will join Extreme E as team owner of Rosberg Xtreme Racing. In December, the team confirmed Molly Taylor as the female driver of the team, competing the team’s driver line-up with Johan Kristoffersson.
Molly Taylor is the 2016 Australian Rally Champion, and the only female winner of the series to date. In 2013, she became the Number One International Female Rally Driver in the World Rally Rankings. The next year, Molly finished third in the 2014 Rally Finland which made her the first female driver in Junior WRC to finish on the podium.
As the daughter of rally driver Mark Taylor and four-time Australian Rally Champion co-driver Coral Taylor, Molly used to work with her father at his rally school which eventually sparked her own rally career. In 2007, Molly made her debut in the Australian Rally Championship and won the F16 class. Then in 2010, Molly won a spot to compete in the Pirelli Star Driver Shootout against 15 other young rally drivers from around the world. She won a fully funded scholarships to compete in the 2011 World Rally Championship as part of the FIA World Rally Championship Academy.
Besides racing herself, Molly is also an ambassador for FIA Girls on Track. Now, let’s go to our Q&A with Molly and see what she looks forward to in Extreme E Season 1.
Paddock Sorority (PS): How did you find out about Extreme E? What made you decide to join the Drivers’ Programme and eventually Rosberg Xtreme Racing?
Molly Taylor (MT): I originally heard about it when the program launched through the media. I’d been following its development and loved the concept and the larger purpose behind the series, so when the Driver’s Programme was announced, I knew that I really wanted to be a part of it. Similarly when I first spoke to Nico, his passion for the project – not only to win but to make a meaningful positive impact – was pretty powerful and I wanted to be a part of that.
PS: What was your first impression of Odyssey 21? Did anything about the car surprise you?
MT: I didn’t really have many expectations because I knew it would be so different to anything I’d ever driven before. So I came in with a very open mind and my first impression was that it was a lot of fun to drive! Even though it is a really big off-road vehicle, it handled better than I was expecting. The lack of engine noise was something that I also got used to a lot quicker than I imagined and after a few laps you really start to feel at home. Having instant torque is pretty cool too.
PS: The drivers are from a variety of backgrounds, with the race format perhaps new for everyone, what do you think are your strengths given your background?
MT: I think it’s great that we have such a range of drivers and a format that is completely new for everyone – it adds to the adventure! Coming from a rally background, we are used to adapting on the run, so I think that will be very helpful in this series.
PS: Which X Prix are you most looking forward to? Which one do you think might be the most challenging for you?
MT: It’s really hard to say! As well as the race formats, the terrains will also be new. I think I’m most looking forward to the events in South America because the locations have always been places on my bucket list. I think the first events will be the most challenging because everything is new and we still have so many unknowns.
PS: Are there any special preparations/training you are doing for Extreme E?
MT: I will be taking part in an off-road race in Australia and doing some testing in that space to prepare for the style of tracks we will use in Extreme E compared to rally.
PS: Rewinding back to the beginning of your career, which aspect of rally attracted you the most to pursue a career in it? Were your rally driver parents the biggest influence in your decision to become a professional driver?
MT: I’d grown up around the sport, but for me it wasn’t until I was about 16 that I first got behind the wheel properly and realised just how much fun it was driving a rally car on dirt. So for me, the biggest aspect was the driving sensation of sliding the car around – I just loved it! Of course, the challenge and competitive elements were also pretty enticing. My parents were certainly a big influence, introducing me to the sport in the first place, but from there it was always my decision what I wanted to do and how far I wanted to take the sport.
PS: Would you make a comeback to TCR Australia in the future? What do you think is the biggest challenge for you in circuit racing?
MT: Sure, why not! I really enjoyed the small step into the circuit world, but rally will always be my biggest passion. The driving style on a circuit and also racing next to other cars were two new experiences, so there was lots of learning and a challenge getting up to speed with that!
PS: In the future, if Extreme E were to expand its calendar, what terrain/which region in Australia would you like to see added to the calendar?
MT: I think Australia would be an awesome addition to the calendar. Being such a big country, we have so many terrains. I think the outback desert in central Australia, the rainforests of Northern Queensland or somewhere in the Northern Territory would make ideal locations for an event.
PS: Since Extreme E is new to all audiences, in three words, why do you think motorsport fans and the general audiences should follow this new championship?
MT: Trailblazing future motorsport.
On April 5th (right after the first ever X Prix), we continue with our Extreme E series.