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by Tim Beissmann

Two young Australian women will join the World Rally Championship in 2011 as a part of the brand new WRC Academy.

Driver Molly Taylor, 22, and co-driver Rebecca Smart, 24, will come together in a Ford Fiesta R2 in six rounds of the 2011 WRC series.

Just 24 places were available in the Academy for 2011, with six of those awarded to the winners of last year’s Pirelli Star Driver program, in which Taylor was one of the standouts.

The Academy is a specialised training program that expands the WRC’s graduated rally pathway, sitting beneath the Junior WRC series.

Young Victorian driver Brendan Reeves also won a spot in the Academy alongside Taylor.

Taylor’s co-driver Smart placed second in last year’s Australian Rally Championship alongside her brother Ryan.

She will leave her brother and her job as a veterinary nurse to partner Taylor overseas.

On top of world championship races in Portugal, Italy, Finland, Germany, France and Wales, the two will compete in selected rounds of the British and European rally series.

Taylor, who heads to the UK this weekend to begin preparation for the first round in Portugal in March, said she was excited about their opportunity in the Academy.

“It will be great to have an all-girl team, but more importantly Rebecca is just as determined as I am with the same ambitions,” Taylor said.

“From the little time we have spent in a car together things are very positive and I am looking forward to getting started on an event. We get along really well and have a lot in common so we have a good basis to work from.”

Both women have already enjoyed significant success in their young rallying careers, with Smart sharing the Kumho Tyres’ Future Champions Award with her brother in 2010, and Taylor named the British Ladies Rally Champion in 2009 and 2010.

The Rally of Portugal, which is the third round of the 2011 WRC series, will be held on March 24-27.




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