December 11, 2014

 

A new feature where we sit down with members of the GPVWC Community for a chat on all things sim-racing. The first edition sees GPVWC stalwart Kieran Ryan talk about his long past with the league and what he sees for his future.
GPVWCTALK: First off, I assume we will see you back on the Superleague grid for 2015. Safe bet is that it will be Phoenix, even though nothing has been announced?

Kieran Ryan: Nothing's been announced yet of where or what my plans for 2015 are. I know Phoenix haven't announced any seats yet but things are in progress and hope to have some news soon.

GT: This will be Phoenix's third year back at Superleague level. What do you personally think is needed to move the project on to the next level?

KR: Well Phoenix's history stretches back to 2003 so it's actually going to be the teams fifth season in the top flight of the league. When Andy restarted the project we had set certain goals to achieve. Certainly year one we came exactly where we thought we would. Expectations naturally escalated for 2014 however due to a number of reasons that sadly didn't materialise. As for 2015 Phoenix will need to regroup, take more gambles and be more daring. If the team is to achieve better results there's a lot more that needs to be done to get anywhere near their glory days of 2005

GT: Yourself and Boyd Bryson make for a capable duo on track. How have you found working with Bryson? Has your single-seater experience helped rub off on a driver who is known more for this tin-top prowess?

KR: Boyd is a credit to South Africa and an absolute pleasure and gentleman to race with. He's very reliable, resilient and creative behind the scenes. He designed the 2014 car -- one of my favourites in the SL. He's very fast and extremely talented. He pushed me hard in 2013 and even harder in 2014. It was unfortunate his internet let him down as much as it did and I hope to see him again in 2015.

GT: Other teams, such as Woods Racing and ST Racing have resorted to 'hired guns' late last year in attempt to boost their overall point counts. Is hiring a driver of that kind of calibre what is needed to move Phoenix up the field?

KR: What's required is consistency and talent, then you're golden.You can take a risk and higher a big gun but we've seen how the likes of Kernow have had that blow up in their face with first Lee then Gusseppi vacate their seats. They cost a lot of money and likely contributed to Kernow missing races. A fast driver can only get around so much of a cars deficits before they reach a limit. So it depends on the driver to see how much of an impact they can make.

GT: Do you think Andy Graydon might have to make such a decision in the future if it means finishing higher up the constructors table?

KR: Yes and that's his decision to make and whatever he decides he has my full support. It's team first, driver second.

GT: You've been on part of the GPVWC since 2002. Is there any thoughts on retiring from sim-racing? Or should we expect to see you flying the Irish tricolour for years to come on the grid?

KR: I'm conscious I'm coming to the end of my career here sooner than later. A part of me burns to stay here forever, for whatever reason. I have a soft spot for the league ever since I found it back in Christmas 2001 and joined Mapes-VO. Its been a big part of my life believe it or not, I recall certain milestones in my own personal life and recall what happened to me in SL at the time. But with all good things they must end at some point. Certainly I don't intend to run around near the back for years to come, I want to remember the 30 odd podiums, wins, the poles etc. more than the 15ths

GT: The likelihood is that within the next season or so we are likely to see a new platform for racing. Are you prepared for another move to a new sim? Do you have equipment capable of running more power hungry games such as rFactor2?

KR: Yes equipment isn't an issue. I've come through all the changes in formats with the league and adapted to them all. Especially the change from GP4 to RF1

GT: You've had the opportunity to race against the majority of Superleague champions. Is there any in particular that stand out above the rest?

KR: That's like choosing between your favourite pet....they all brought so much to the table. Mikko (Jakonen) in 2002 was fantastic! Great team mate, reliable, crafty - he knew what had to be done and did it; we worked well together and he always pushed me on.
Steve (Elencevski) in 2006 - he just blew the field away. He was really a case of 'anything you can do, I can do better' attitude. I learned a lot from him. Jason (Endean - GPVWC's inaugural Superleague Champion) in 2005 was great to race against and beat!


GT: Your last race win came in Bahrain in 2010 with Woods Racing. As someone with a pedigree in the past for fighting for wins and championships - how do you motivate yourself as you fight at the lower end of the points table?

KR: It's all about the fight, so long as there's points on the table I'm up for it. I'm very much a realist, if I know we have x chance and y pace, I just put the visor down and go for it. Would I still like to fight for podiums, absolutely but we're no where near there, so I have to pick my own 'podium' battles for points and get on with it.

GT: With the recent influx of talent and the raising of standards in series such as the Supercup, would you consider a move to that series if a time came that you couldn't so the Superleague?

KR: I don't know is the answer. Those tears were designed for people to come through the ranks and work their way up and for me not vice versa. I'd never say never but I'd certainly consider walking away before that. I mean no offence with that, but I feel I've started in SL I should finish here.

GT: When it comes to this league, you have been there and seen that. You've seen changes in race formats, mods, platforms - even administration. What do you think has been the biggest positive change since you first joined the GPVWC community and - what from the past do you miss and like to see return?

KR: Biggest change is undoubtedly the online element rather than the 'save and upload' days we used to have. It naturally added realism and an extra buzz to the racing that was missing. It increased numbers and became the foundations for today's racing.

What do I miss - maybe some of the classic tracks in my opinion. Like Kyalami or Magny Cours but that's all.


GT: You are a driver who has divided opinion due to hard racing style you have adopted over the years. Have you ever found yourself questioning yourself based off these opinions and is there anything you would like to say to those critics?

KR: No. If you look to the top racers they bang wheels as much as any other driver. I calculate my move, I see if there's a point in fighting or should I let someone by if it means we'll get points later on etc. I'll defend if I see a need to and go for gaps if another driver leaves one open. Racing involves risk and sometimes if you don't take calculated risks you may as well stay at home. You're seen as a 'hero' if you can pull off an epic move but should the driver go one way or the other it can been seen as a major error you should have seen coming. It's all about perception.

GT: This year you have been part of the community's Disciplinary Committee. How have you found that role and has it given a greater insight into the internal workings of how issues on that are addressed within the GPVWC?

KR: It opened my eyes to the amount of hard work those guys do and hats off to them, it's a thankless job but a necessary one. I do think personally it still needs to go an extra level, consistency is key and I still think that's not quite there. I flagged a number of issues throughout the year and I was basically told since they weren't protested no warnings will be given. I'd be of the opinion if you flag to the driver you've noticed something that isn't right, they then know they're been reviewed and will think twice.

GT: Former champion and a team-mate of yours, Steve Elencevski recently returned on the forums. Can you divulge if any racing return is on the cards for the former champion?

If there is - how do you think we would fare against the current crop, given that another former champion - Mikko Jakonen - has not found his way back to the top step of the podium since his own racing return.

KR: Steve has made contact with me and Andy but beyond that I can't comment any further.

GT: A number of your former racing colleagues such as Mark Wicks, Mark Fuller and Adam Rouse have all gone into team management in recent years. Is there any desire of your own to run your own team?

KR: I always said if and when I retire I'll review that as an option. I tend to put all my effort into one thing - driving. I found doing DC duties and driving this year tough going to balance the time between them both so not for the foreseeable future.

GT: What expectations have you got for yourself personally - and for the league in 2015?

KR: I hope it's closer that's the main thing everyone wants. We want a year where 3 sec separate the field not 6 sec as it got to last year. We want SC style gaps and racing, that's why we're here and what we all strife for. No one wants it easy, not even the likes of Fidcock or Redshaw. They would be the first to say we want close hard fights. It adds to the competition.

Personally speaking I hope Phoenix have a much better year, can fight for some top 10 positions and have better reliability.


GT: You had the opportunity to meet your fellow sim-racers at the GPVWC Day event in Manchester. Has meeting your competitors in person given you and new insights or opinions on those you knew only through on-track activities?

KR: It was a pleasure to meet all at the day, I hadn't been to one in about 7 years. So many faces I know from FB but not to see. The Benelux/Maltese/Finnish gang were great, very welcoming and I spent a lot of time with them. I certainly picked up some useful information from the day.

GT: Tell us what Kieran Ryan does when he isn't out on track

KR: The same as everyone else I'd imagine, I work in HR which is quite time consuming and mirrors the DC work. I enjoy my racquet sports and go karting. I try and get away when I can, travelling is the best thing in the world. There's no better feeling knowing I just a passport and go!


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