EXCLUSIVE: Ed Ordynski interview, Part 3
- 27th September 2006, 3:55pm
You are working alongside Garry Connelly between now and the end of the year effectively already in the role – how is that working out?
Well, that’s completely false. I am definitely not involved in decisions between now and January. I think many people have misinterpreted the CAMS release that I will be working alongside Garry – I am only doing that insofar as being copied in on items regarding ARCom and getting a handle on all the documents such as the terms of reference, structure of the Commission etc. Until January I am not a co-chair or even a member of ARCom. I think it’s very important to maintain that distance so that I can start with a ‘clean sheet’ in the new year and not be saddled with baggage from the most recent three months. Plus I am flat out on other projects until then anyway.
Have you basically retired from rallying as a top level competitor or do you still hope to be involved in the future?
No I haven’t retired and I am very grateful to Neal Bates for occasionally including me in some testing to stay active. I recognise that at 51 years of age the chances of regaining a works drive are not strong. I was instrumental in setting up Alan Heaphy’s organisation with Mitsubishi, and pushed hard for young drivers to be included. I just figured I would be there too and unfortunately the downturn for Mitsubishi globally prevented that. Scott Pedder is a great choice and without him I doubt if there would be a Mitsubishi factory car in the ARC. I think Scott and I in Heaphy-run cars would have made a very strong combination and we could have brought along some very young competitors at the same time. That was all in place but it was scuppered by circumstance. I think I am still competitive – if you look at who the rally winners and heat winners are from the last five years or so, I’m ahead of many current drivers and I’m still on the money in testing. My last two years competing in the old Ralliart cars and then with Les Walkden were under incredibly difficult circumstances politically while we tried to bring Mitsubishi into a new, commercially successful, marketing savvy era, and I am disappointed that it affected my results in those two seasons which were ordinary. The way the whole situation was handled with the move from the old Ralliart Australia in Sydney was very poor. The fact is, when I stopped driving at the end of 2004 there were about 12 professional drivers in the ARC – now there are three. I would be back like a shot if I could. It was my life and I miss it incredibly. But I do balance that with the fact that I had more than 30 fantastic years in the sport, nearly 20 of those as a full time driver.
You have personally coached many competitors in the sport both here and overseas; people who have gone on to win the Asia-Pacific Championship, national titles in most Asian countries and the ARC, and state titles too. Do you envisage doing more training?
It has been an absolute privilege to have seen where some of my ‘students’ have gone – the obvious ones like Cody Crocker, Chris Atkinson, Scott Pedder, Katsu Taguchi and so on. But there are also more obscure ones, like training the team which won the Thai Rallycross Championship, the Japanese Dirt Trial Championship or the 360 racing drivers I trained in China, many of whom are now competing throughout Asia. I even trained George Shepheard at 60 years of age to win the QRC as a driver! Nowadays most requests are for me to teach pace-noting, especially for tarmac rallies, and some of my students have won the major events. Time has been a big limiting factor on my ability to provide training but I get just as much out of it as my students and I should do more. I think it’s been something where I’ve provided a different style to any other trainers because I have a strong background in education, the way different people best learn and how to identify their strengths.
What is your vision for the future of rallying in Australia?
We are in serious danger of losing gravel rallying as we know it if we don’t address the rapidly disappearing areas where we can run events. Tarmac rallying, which is currently booming, is at the mercy of a major high speed incident. We need to make sure both types of rallying are sustainable. That pretty much encompasses everything.
As told to Jeff Whitten, August 2006.
Ed Ordynski’s Motorsport Highlights
- 1st Group N, Rally Australia, World Rally Championship, 1989, '91, '92, '93, '94, '95, '96, 2001.
- 1st Group N, Rally New Zealand, World Rally Championship, 1994.
- Australian Group N Rally Champion, 1990, 1993, '94, '95.
- Australian Rally Champion, outright, 1990, in a Group N car.
- Winner, 1993 Esanda International Rally of Canberra.
- Winner, 2002 Subaru International Rally of Canberra
- Winner, 1995 Mobil 1 Round Australia Trial.
- 2nd outright, Australian Rally Championship, 2003.
- 9th outright, Sandown 500 V8 Touring Car Race, 1995.
- 3rd outright, Rally of Thailand, 1994.
- Winner, Mitsubishi Ralliart Driver of the Year, eight times.
- 1986 South Australian Rally Champion driving a Subaru RX Turbo.
- 1989, became the first Australian to win at World Championship level (in a privately entered Mitsubishi Galant VR4 at Perth's Rally Australia).
- Outright winner Australian Rally Championship as privateer in a self prepared Mitsubishi Galant VR4.
- Contested Group N World Championship rallies in New Zealand, Finland, Sweden and Australia, taking nine wins in total.
- Winner Australian Group N Rally Championship four times.
- Raced V8 Supercars at Bathurst and Sandown (9th outright).
- Contested 12 Hour races at Eastern Creek and Bathurst with George Fury and Win Percy.
- Won Australia’s longest Rally, the 1995 20,000km Mobil 1 Round Australia Trial, in a two-car team with Peter Brock.
- Landmark win of the 2001Group N World Rally Championship, defeating both the outgoing (Manfred Stohl) and newly crowned (Gabriel Pozzo) World Champions at Perth’s Rally Australia.
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