Interview: Ryan Smart, Rally Queensland winner
- 28th July 2016, 11:05pm
Ryan Smart emerged from a two-year rallying lay-off to win round three of the Australian Rally Championship in Queensland in June.
RallySport Magazine’s Luke Whitten asked Smart a few questions about his return to the top of the tree, and if we’re likely to see him in the ARC again in the near future.
RSM: A win at your home event in Queensland after a long lay-off was an impressive performance. What does it mean to win your home event?
Ryan Smart: It was a bit surprising to be honest, we didn't know where our pace would be, so to mix it with the front runners was nice.
RSM: Were you surprised to be on the pace so quickly?
RS: A little I guess. I was happy to run in the top five because all the front-runners are fast and you have to be on your game to consistently mix it with them.
RSM: It's not uncommon for treacherous weather conditions in Queensland. What were the keys to getting you through Sunday's stages unscathed?
RS: To stay on the main line where the road is mainly worn in. As soon as you get slightly off line you're gone before you know it. Rally Queensland is unforgiving at the best of times.
RSM: You’ve recently posted your Subaru rally car for sale. If that sells, will the money from the sale go towards the rallying? Could there be some plans for the ARC in the near future?
RS: No, it (the money) has to put some funds back into where the Evo 9 funds came from. My rallying funds come from working hard and an understanding wife!
RSM: What are your thoughts on the ARC rules this year, which have allowed older 4WD cars to win events?
RS: To be honest I really don't know, it seems to change all too often. The rules have made it easier for us to come back out and have a run this year, so I'd like to see this to continue for state level guys, to see that it is possible to step up and give the top guys a run for their money.
RSM: Are the plans to possibly limit the age of cars that can win the championship a good thing for the future of the sport?
RS: This is a touchy subject, so Facebook says! It seems to be attracting competitors, however, I think the championship still has a long way to go before people worry about an age limit. I mean, if Simon (Evans) was in a newer shape Subaru the age limit subject probably wouldn't even be an issue.
RSM: Stepping back a little, is the Group N (P) Toyota Corolla Sportivo you drove to second in the championship still around?
RS: Yeah, Adrian Coppin owns it now and I believe he does some promotional work with it for Rally Australia. That's one car I'd still like to have in the shed.
RSM: You had a tough battle with Justin Dowel that year. What are some of the memories you have from that title fight?
RS: Good and bad memories. Winning an ARC round for the first time is a special memory, but to lose the championship on the last stage at the last round due to a mechanical failure was a hard pill to swallow. Apart from that, Justin and Matt (Lee) were really good to compete with that year, which I enjoyed the most.
RSM: How did you get into the sport, and what was your first rally car?
RS: I used to go out to Imbil and watch Possum, Neal, Cody, Simon and all the top guys, which got me so keen to be a part of it. So I bought a Datsun 180B off eBay in 2007. It had already been built and I started out in club rallies with my sister, Rebecca, co-driving. I guess the rest is history.
RSM: Apart from rallying, do you do anything else to fuel your 'need for speed'?
RS: I enjoy trail bike riding as that's where my background of motorsport comes from, so I guess that's the closest to rallying you can get. I also love family time and playing with our little girl.
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