Ryan refutes ‘villain’ portrayal

Erebus boss Barry Ryan says selective editing contributed to his portrayal as a villain in the Supercars documentary series last year.

Ryan’s brash management style was thrust into the public eye last year through the Inside Line documentary series, billed as a warts-and-all look behind the scenes at a Supercars team.

The show, which followed Erebus throughout its 2019 campaign, played heavily on Ryan’s outbursts, including arguments with engineers and mechanics, explosive criticism of co-driver Luke Youlden and even Ryan storming out of the Gold Coast precinct midway through race day.

While not refuting what happened, Ryan says selective editing helped the show unfairly portray him as a villain.

“I watch it back and go ‘who the hell is that guy?’,” Ryan told the Parked Up podcast.

“They wanted to create a villain, that’s good for a TV show. Everything I did was on camera, so I can’t deny I did some of those things.

“But some of it… most people in the industry have said that they know that I might have blown up then, but five minutes later, you’re going down and fixing the situation.

“Sometimes you talk to the drivers about what the mechanics are doing to keep the drivers pepped up. And five minutes later you’re talking to the mechanics, saying how much of a dickhead the driver is. You just have to do that over a weekend to keep everyone’s energy up.

“If you see one bit, and you don’t see the other but, you can’t work out what I’m doing. I think that’s the hard thing for people to get their heads around. I just look like I was yelling at everyone and giving everyone the shits. But a lot of the time it was to keep the energy of the team up.

“I’ve learnt things from it. I’m not going to change. Anybody who thinks I’m going to change, they’re dreaming.”

Ryan’s management style was an ongoing theme once the documentary aired, driven by the ongoing tension between him and David Reynolds throughout a tough 2020 campaign.

It was also rumoured to be behind the exodus at the end of last season that included drivers Reynolds and Anton De Pasquale, race engineers Alistair McVean and Mirko De Rosa, crew chief Dennis Huijser and sponsor Penrite.

Ryan, however, denies there’s a poor culture within in the team.

“Pretty much from 2017 to this year, no one has left,” he said.

“Nobody comes in at the end of the year and says ‘why did you treat me like that?’. Usually, if I predict they’re going to come and see me, I’ll grab them and say ‘you know what happened, you know why I blew up at you’.

“And [the TV show] didn’t show people blowing up back at me, either.

“But the conversations happen, we all get on it with it, and we all learn. You’ve got to make mistakes to learn. I just sometimes don’t have the temper for it. But the team, they know that’s just me. They know in five minutes I’ll forget about it. [The show] didn’t portray how strong our team bond is.”

Ryan also opened up on the team’s difficult 2020 campaign, which included a four-month road trip due to the Melbourne lockdown.

He says the circumstances meant he had to be tougher than usual on the crew, but that the majority understood and responded to the challenge.

“Anybody can believe anything, but I know what happened, and I know what we had to do with government rules,” he said. “Not just Supercars rules or Erebus rules, rules the government enforced.

That’s what we had to be strict on. The majority of the team were good with that, they understood that this is a pandemic, not a game. Other people just didn’t take it seriously.

“I can’t say too much, but I had to be a bigger boss than I’d ever been, we were on the road with a heap of people. You can’t fuck it up. The reputation of the category was at stake.

“So I probably had to roar a bit more than I normally would. The majority of the team took it on board and they knew exactly what to do. Others didn’t. I wouldn’t reverse anything I did, because I had to look after the team and the sport.

“It was a challenge, but I actually enjoyed the time on the road. The majority of our team were unbelievable. People have focussed on car #9’s results last year, but people forget how good Anton went. His results were exception.

“Dave… like I said before, some people didn’t handle it as well as others. I’m not going to go into it any deeper than that.

“Everybody’s character is different. It’s no one’s fault, it’s just that everybody is built different. Anton loved it. Being on the road was for him was his dream, racing every weekend. He’d race every day if he could.

“But Dave has always said he loves breaks between races, it gets too much for him. That’s just Dave, it’s the way Dave’s built.”

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