Ryan Wins ARC Junior Rally Challenge
Last weekend’s Rally Victoria saw the crowning of a new Kumho Tyres Australian Junior Rally Challenge Champion, with Tom Ryan winning the reliability battle against rival Guy Tyler.
In the end the title battle was a two horse race, with Tyler qualifying for the finale at his home event in South Australia, while Ryan was the most recent qualifier at the penultimate Round in Coffs Harbour.
Heading into the event Ryan had stated that he felt it would be reliability rather than speed that would win out, and prophetically his comments became almost immediately true when both drivers slowed on the opening afternoon with concerns.
“I had a diff seal leak, and all the oil came out and the diff was basically dry. So it began to overheat and bind up because of the heat, it was making really bad noises,” said Ryan of his issues. “But we managed to keep topping it up with oil and pressing on until we could replace the diff at the end of day service.”
Meanwhile his title contender Tyler had more dramatic issues to contend with. His Renault Clio had developed an engine misfire from the very first stage, and despite his teams best efforts including bringing a Renault engineer out from Melbourne on the Friday evening, they were unable to source the fault.
“I guess both the problems I was having, and Guy’s, were pretty sudden, and when it happened we actually stopped for almost ten minutes in the stage to put oil in the diff. I was just trying to make sure the car would make it to the end of the rally,” explained Ryan who would finish second behind Tyler on the opening Heat.
That left Saturday’s long day to settle the battle for the Junior title, and again it would be Tyler who was struggling from the outset.
“On the Saturday morning I did push on the first stage, just to start the day with a really good time and prove what sort of speed I could drive, and I actually caught and passed Guy in that stage because he was having problems,” Ryan said.
“I got up through his dust and managed to get past him, and our time for that stage was actually pretty good because the roads had swept up and it was making it much easier for us to drive.”
“I knew I had to keep a level head the whole time, not push above my abilities to prove a point to anyone,” Tom continued. “Everyone around me kept saying ‘Just keep a level head’ and that whichever of us made it to the finish would be the winner.”
Tyler would limp through to the midday service, where in addition to the continued engine misfire he’d now developed gearbox concerns in his Clio. The difficult decision would be made to park the car, meaning that short of Ryan making a catastrophic mistake he would be crowned the victor.
“Guy beat us on Friday, but I just focused on getting to finish on Saturday. That’s easier said than done, I felt like a drove a pretty good day though and to make it to the end of the last stage felt pretty incredible.”
The 2014 Kumho Tyres Australian Junior Rally Challenge then went the way of Tom Ryan, the New South Wales youngster all smiles as he celebrated his achievement with his family and service crew at the finish podium.
So what does it mean to Ryan to have won the title? “I can tell people I’ve won this and get’s me a bit of extra recognition. It also tells people I was fast enough and reliable enough to win, that I’m consistent and can finish rallies while keeping a level head,” he explained.
And where to now for Tom Ryan? “It’s a bit too early to know about next year at this stage. There is always a money aspect of course, but we’re planning ahead with the aim to get more rallies in next year.”