SSV Xteam - Michael Guest / David Green
Michael Guest - Driver
Michael Guest is one of Australia’s leading rally drivers, producing outstanding results at both a national and international level.
His career commenced driving a battered A$800 Datsun in Australian club level rallying and has taken him all the way to the World Rally Championship podium.
In 2000, Guest contested six of the 14 rounds of the world championship. The first three (in Portugal, Spain and Greece) were in a two-litre, two-wheel drive (or Formula 2) Hyundai Coupe Kit Car. The last three (Finland, San Remo and Australia) were piloting a powerful, turbo-charged, four-wheel-drive Hyundai Accent World Rally car. Guest won his class in both Rally of Portugal and the Acropolis Rally.
In 1999, he competed in six events for the Winfield World Rally Team in the Group N (production car) category of the World Rally Championship. A solid fifth in Group N at the Catalunya Rally in Spain and a well-earned fourth in Group N at the gruelling China Rally were the best results of that campaign.
Guest started rallying in 1989, and quickly moved through the ranks. In 1992, he gave a hint of what was to come when he made a memorable debut in Rally Australia by winning his class in a Toyota Corolla.
This small, but important, victory convinced Guest to make an even greater commitment to his dream of becoming a world-class driver and he decided to buy a four-wheel-drive, turbo-charged Mitsubishi Lancer Evo1 for an all-out attack on the Australian Rally Championship.
His investment was rewarded when he won the opening round of the 1994 Australian Championship, Rally Melbourne, then went on to win five more rounds and finish a close second to eventual series winner, Neal Bates.
1995 was a watershed year for Guest. A highlight of the year was leading for more than 10 days in the 18,000-km, 19-day Mobil 1 Round Australia Rally, to eventually finish a close second to rival Ed Ordynski.
Support from Mitsubishi Ralliart moved his campaign up a gear, but ultimately the pressure and expectations he put on himself took their toll. He suffered a series of crashes, more often than not while leading. “1995 was the year I discovered where the limits are, I extended the envelope and it cost me a lot, but I learned a lot as well,” Guest said.
The frustration of so often “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory” led Guest to a sports psychologist and an important decision regarding the type of car he would drive in 1996.
“It really was the turning point of my career,” Guest said. “I discovered my mental toughness and the sports psychologist gave me some insights into ways of coping with other competitors and the pressure of rallying. Rallying is actually not as much a physical sport as one which requires intense thinking.”
Guest then made a strategic decision to abandon the glamour of the powerful four-wheel-drive Group A competition, for the less spectacular but equally challenging Group N cars. “It is almost impossible to compete with the international teams in Group A if you don’t have massive backing,” Guest explained at the time. “But in Group N, the playing field is more level and there are more opportunities to beat the big guys.”
His decision proved prescient when he won the 1996 Australian Rally Championship in Group N and finished fifth overall (first Group N) on his international debut at Rally New Zealand.
Sponsorship from Les Walkden Rallying in 1997 meant a change from Mitsubishi to a Subaru Impreza. Guest quickly adapted, winning the Group N Australian Rally Championship for a second time.
His successful run continued with Group N victories at the 1998 Rally of New Zealand and Rally Australia, and lead to his World Rally Championship campaign in 2000, a huge step for an Australian driver.
After a break from the sport, Guest returned to the Australian Rally Championship, heading up the Pirtek Rally Team campaign in 2007 before returning to Les Walkden Rallying for the 2008 championship, this time behind the wheel of a Group N Subaru Impreza WRX STI.
David Green - Co Driver