It was almost 50 years ago that Ringo Starr with The Beatles gave us that psychedelic pop tune With a Little Help from my Friends, but driving through the streets of London several weeks ago Guy Tyler realised that sometimes it takes a bit more to succeed in life.
In his game, the spectacular, pulsating sport of rally driving, Guy has an army of great friends and supporters, especially in home-town Willunga, but to get on the best tracks it also takes a lot of money.
Guy, 25, hoped he had realised his dream of a lifetime when he was invited to perform a test drive in the Vauxhall Motorsport’s Adam R2 car at a small tarmac test track just north of Litchfield, about two hours north of London.
There was a spot on their team at stake, and from all accounts the British company’s team bosses loved his driving and presentation during a host of interviews.
But ultimately, when it came to the final crunch, competing for this dream opportunity against five other equally impressive young rally drivers – two each from Sweden and Ireland, and another from Victoria – it got down to how much money they could contribute to the team’s budget needed to run such a big campaign.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t make it into the team’s line-up,” Guy wrote back home just hours after the announcement. “This wasn’t a big surprise though. I felt they knew I had the driving talent and media skills, but in the end I just lacked the sheer money.
“However, I am not taking this as a setback… I know that it can help lead to other opportunities.”
There was no hint of regrets at having to pay his way to London for the interview. Now it’s back to Willunga and preparing for big local events including the SA Rally Championship, which he clinched last October in his 1998 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 5.
“It is an expensive sport, and you do need a lot of help from a lot of people to get the car on the road and compete,” Guy, 25, said.
“If you make a mistake it’s a lot of money. It’s 95 percent working on the car and five per cent racing, and without sponsorship you have to work incredible hours at your job – if you have one – to go racing.
“For a state championship event we’d be away the weekend, but for something like the Rally Australia event at Coffs Harbour last year we needed a full two weeks there. You need a decent lead time and be relaxed. You start your reconnaissance work on the Tuesday and do that for two days and the event goes until the Sunday.
“You are talking about accommodation expenses, fuel; everything. Coffs Harbour cost us about $20,000 just for this one event.
“We were leading the Australian Championship part there, and we felt good about it when the engine blew up. It was disappointing, but it took nothing away from the thrill of just being a part of the event and being there with some of the best drivers in the world.
“After that 20 grand we spent we then had to fix the car up. We had a month to the final round of the state championship… there wasn’t time to fix the engine so we got another one and rebuilt that on a shoestring. Then we had to find money to buy tyres. We were lucky it was a home event so we didn’t have to pay for accommodation.”
Yet, for all this disappointment – and bad luck that’s rife in this sport – Guy just smiled and said how he had been so fortunate because of a lot of help from his mum and dad, Chris and Helen, and his mechanic friends. There’s Chris Simmonds, his co-driver, Steve Fisher, with whom he won the state championship with, Guy’s girlfriend, Evangeline, also from Willunga, and a amazingly long list of friends including sponsors.
“It’s been a massive effort by a lot of people, especially when they have taken time off work to go to the events,” Guy said. “It’s hard on them; they do it just for the love of it.”
It has been a relatively short but an amazing journey since he was an adventurous 10-year-old kid sitting on two cushions so he could see over the dashboard as he tore around the family’s dairy farm at Willunga. He has never forgotten where he has come from.
“I always interested in racing cars,” Guy said. “I had a few Toranas, Corollas and paddock bashers that helped to get the driving skills up at an early age.
“I joined the Southern Districts Car Club, which had a track Lanac Park, and everyone there has always been amazing. The rally community is close and helpful; the further you try and get into it, the more they help.
“Yeah, people see it as a dangerous sport, but I’ve never really had any big accidents or thought in one moment, ‘this is it’.
“The highest speed I’ve done was 230 k/ph, but that was on very wide roads. I’ve also been sideways a couple of times and airborne at 200 k/ph.
“But I have a fairly safe driving style and I developed that slowly over the years. I know how to drive very fast safely. You are always taking risks; something can always happen in the blink of an eye, but they’re risks you have to take.
“We look at corners and develop pace notes which the co-driver reads out.
“The angles of the corners, distance between corners, where to go over the crests… that’s a lot of hard work, but it pays off. No, the co-driver just doesn’t go around for the joy ride.
“It’s high adrenalin stuff… your eyes are wide open at the end of a rally, and life seems boring when you have finished.”
Guy works as often as he can delivering furniture for a very supportive business, KT3 Kitchens to the Trade, in Lonsdale, and everyone asks him whether he delivers quicker than anyone else. He smiles, and then delivers a serious message to drivers about road safety.
“The great thing about the Southern Districts club is that young people learn driving skills, and they appreciate the road rules,” Guy said. “The club has a new track at Cambrai in the Mid-Murray, and they still run the juniors program there. The kids start at 12 and go to 16, teaching them skills and proper road behaviour.
“I say get a bomb, go to some club events and have some fun. It gives you that fix instead of doing it on the street. Start with something small and see if it is for you. Motor sport can be very cheap at the lower level.”
Guy cannot thank his supporters enough, great people from places like Willunga Tyre and Battery, and Neat Gearboxes at Edwardstown.
And then there’s Ian Walker from Walker’s Create Art, which does Guy’s art and stickers on his team 1998 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 5. That’s his grandpa, and like Guy’s mum and dad, girlfriend Evangeline and all his amazing friends, Ian couldn’t be more proud of him. It’s amazing what you can still achieve with a little help from your friends.