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While we can’t say that we weren’t surprised, the resignation of Ed Ordynski as chairman of ARCom last week comes as a bitter blow to rallying in Australia. It comes at a time when a large majority of the rallying family were just starting to see rallying’s fate turn for the better after a period of stagnation in which the profile of rallying ebbed to an all-time low.

Ed’s appointment almost 12 months ago brought with it a breath of fresh air which swept down the musty corridors of ARCom and CAMS where the emphasis on the sport had more often than not been focused at the top end of rallying rather than the base, to the detriment of state and grass roots rallying. Almost immediately following his appointment, there was renewed hope that club and state level competitors, competitors who make up around 90% of rally licence holders, were going to be treated as equal citizens, although ARC competitors would not be ignored either.

It came as no surprise that Ordynski’s fresh, hands on approach landed him in hot water right from the outset, a pattern that has continued until last week when he tendered his resignation to new CAMS CEO, Graham Fountain. Ordynski often crossed swords in his pursuit of reform with the CAMS board members and a number of CAMS’ administrators and appointees who were reluctant, even defiant, to allow for a change in rallying.

Ordynski was carpeted on more than one occasion to explain his actions in trying to make the management and operation of the sport more user-friendly, but there remained a tenuous relationship with those who opposed his consultative ‘can do’ style.

Ordynski’s, open, consultative style that made competitors and stakeholders feel that their opinion was important, gained him friends as he endeavoured to work through the many problems which effect rallying today. Much had already been achieved in his time, and much remains to be done, but the foundations were already being put in place to ensure that his vision continued.

It is not widely recognsided that the position of ARCom chairman is a voluntary (ie: unpaid) one, and one which absorbs a huge amount of time, putting severe restrictions on the chairman in undertaking another full time career position. Ordynski was (as had other chairmen before him) prepared to accept this career restriction because of a desire to give something back to the sport which had given so much enjoyment and career opportunities to him in the past.

But there has been plenty of disquiet at CAMS board level that Ordynski’s methods and aspirations did not fit the CAMS mould. On many occasions he was carpeted for not toeing the party line or accepting CAMS’ doctrine. Despite the claim by the outgoing ARCom chairman and deputy chairman prior to his appointment late last year that he was being “familiarized with all aspects of the CAMS administration” and primed for his new role, they obviously underestimated his desire to do things his way, a way that he believed was in the best interests in the sport.

The question remains – had Ordynski not come up against so many brick walls, would he still be prepared to remain in the role for a further term? The answer is  ‘may be’. But bearing in mind it was always his intention to serve for only 12 months so that he could get rallying back on track, it would now take a lot more than the promise of a free reign at the helm of ARCom to make him agree to ever serve again. And an interference-free guarantee from the sport’s controlling body doesn’t exactly loom large on the horizon.

That’s a huge shame as many people in the sport were beginning to feel that at least rallying was starting to clean up its own backyard, and the future was beginning to look rosy. Is there anyone out there with the vision and the ability to drag rallying, kicking and screaming, back to real relevance and recognition?

Or, more to the point, will the new chairman be allowed to be his or her own person without interference from a board who would be better off concerning themselves with things which they know something about?
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