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South Australia’s Guy Tyler has recorded a strong finish to a gruelling Rally Australia on the Coffs Coast with the team enduring warm weather conditions, dusty roads and stages far in excess of anything they have encountered in the past.

Guy and navigator Damian Reed’s event didn’t get off to a strong start with Tyler unable to successfully get the Renault around the hairpin in the Thursday night Super Special Stage turn due to the handbrake not functioning as it should have.

“It was very frustrating not being able to set a competitive time around the super special stage, but I knew we would be able to make up the time in the forest,” Tyler said.

With the rally proper getting underway on Friday morning, the 777 Rallysport team entered in the Rallyschool.com Australian Junior Challenge, with their aim on claiming back the time lost to the other juniors. The pair were going well and making time up on overnight leader Scott Jackson until they hit problems in the morning’s third stage.

"About four kms into the 25km Newry stage, a terrible noise started coming from the front left wheel. We thought it was a puncture, but when we pulled over to change it, we discovered we didn’t have a flat and kept going at a reduced pace, at the completion of the stage we discovered it was a broken driveshaft which hampered our run slightly,” Tyler said.

A great effort by the 777 Rallysport service crew saw the Clio fixed and back out to the afternoon stages where Guy and Damian focused on preserving the car for a big push on Saturday.

“I can’t thank my service crew enough for the amazing job they did, and I apologise to the competitors who got held up in our dust as we limped through the stage. I think I underestimated just how rough the stages were, my natural instinct is to go as fast as possible, but unfortunately our car can't take it,” Tyler added.

For the first time in his career, Guy encountered the 50km 'Nambucca' stage, the longest he had competed in in his time behind the wheel

“Nambucca was seriously the hardest thing I have ever done. I train hard, but to keep up the intense concentration and aggression for over thirty minutes of racing in that heat was something else".

“It took a good while for my heart rate to come down, but I was glad that I didn’t back off and gave all I had, which translated into a great stage time,” Tyler said.

Sunday’s heat was reduced to only three of the planned six stages due to the field having to run bigger dust gaps. Unfortunately Guy's good run came to a halt when on the second stage, all the wheel studs sheared on the front left wheel, bringing their event to a sudden end.

"It was really disappointing to come so far and not make it to the end; I was planning on preserving our tyres for a big push through Shipmans, the final stage which I really like".

"I would like to extend a huge thank you all my amazing service crew who got us through the rally, the event organisers and officials, and my awesome navigator Damian. I think we have definitely proved our speed and consistency, now I just need a faster and stronger car to really show what we can do."

Photo: John Doutch

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