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Klimenko, Ryan open up on Erebus backlash

EREBUS Motorsport CEO Barry Ryan has denied insinuations of bullying in an emotional television interview, as the Supercars season starts without 2023 champion driver Brodie Kostecki.

Workplace bullying has been suggested as an underlying theme of Kostecki’s decision to sit out the Thrifty Bathurst 500 and seek a release from his Erebus contract, although none of the involved parties have publicly addressed the matter.

In a sitdown interview with Supercars broadcast host Jess Yates, both Ryan and Erebus owner Betty Klimenko declined to comment on Kostecki out of respect to his privacy.

They did, however, offer insight into the sheer backlash they and the team have been exposed to.

“The worst was when one of my grandchildren, I don’t know how they read it, but they read it somewhere and said to my son: ‘Is grandma a bad lady?’ And that did me in,” said Klimenko.

Betty Klimenko (right). Pic: Nathan Wong

“I just had to go, ‘no, I’m not a bad lady, I’m just not saying anything’.

“But you know what, the people that love us and the fans that love us are still here.”

Ryan broke down in tears when pressed on the fallout.

“The biggest thing for me is my wife and daughters making sure I’m not going to hurt myself or do something silly, because there has been so much hate,” he said.

“I’m not that sort of person, I’m not a bully. I don’t do anything but care for people.

“And through the whole process of this I’ve had one of my best mate’s wife (Dana Wyhoon) pass away and I’ve been in intensive care hospitals with him (Terry Wyhoon) and trying to support him. It has just been hard.”

Ryan added it had hurt to lose the support of those who’d previously believed in them.

“To have people that decided they don’t believe in us anymore, that hurts,” he said.

“I have got to have the energy to make sure we can rebuild this and do it again, which I have. But it definitely hurts.”

While Kostecki has maintained a low profile besides a pre-written speech at the Motorsport Australia Awards earlier this month, Klimenko indicated the record “will be set straight at some point”.

“But that’s not what matters,” she said.

“What matters is we respect Brodie’s privacy, we respect the fact that we can’t say anything, and we’ve just had to take this on.

“We’ve had to take on the haters, we’ve had to take on the people that are saying these things and just try to let it go.

“But sometimes in the dead of night you just can’t let it go, it affects you.”

Erebus’ title defence started in the worst possible way today at Bathurst, with an oil pressure issue causing Jack Le Brocq’s Camaro to stop on track in its very first lap of the day.

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