Motorsport: Getting to know Rolex Daytona 24 and Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East winner Cullen
- Credit: Josh Thomas
Ryan Cullen is the latest sporting star to feature in our question and answer sessions.
His unconventional route into motorsport saw Cullen skip the traditional pathway of go-karting as he began working for his father’s company, SDS, and studying at Bridgwater College before driving in the 2012 British Formula Ford championship, where in his first ever race he finished second.
A fine season saw him finish with 324 points from 24 rounds over the course of eight circuits to sit in sixth place overall.
A man now in high demand, Cullen signed for junior team Marussia Manor Racing in the GP3 Series ahead of the 2013 campaign.
After two years with them Cullen was once again on the move, signing for Trident, due to Marussia pulling out due to financial troubles, for the season finale at Abu Dhabi, which marked the end of the 2014 racing calendar.
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Cullen then moved on to race in the Porsche SuperCup before triumphing in the 2017 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East in the final race in Bahrain before signing on to race in the European Le Mans series 12 months later.
More success would follow at Rolex Daytona 24 in January 2019 while racing for DragonSpeed in their LMP2 car with Pastor Madonado, Roberto Gonzalez and Sebastian Saveedra.
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And Cullen, alongside co-drivers Alex Brundle and Will Owen, helped United Autosports to third place during the second round in May that year during the European Le Mans Series at Monza.
This year will mark his ninth year in motorsport and Cullen shares with the Mercury what it like to be a racing driver, his most frightening moment whilst in a race car and what the future holds for him.
Q.How did you get into motor-racing?
RC: I started karting at eight-years-old. I took a break from karting and came back into full-time racing in 2012, and it started from there really. I was always a big fan of motorsport.
Q.Who were your biggest heroes growing up?
RC: Michael Schumacher, Roy Keane and my Dad.
Q.Were you into any other sports growing up?
RC: Football, Boxing, Skiing, Rugby and Table Tennis.
Q.What is your biggest achievement in motorsport?
RC: Winning the Rolex Daytona 24 hour race in 2019 or close behind being in the Porsche Hall of Fame for my Championship win in 2017.
Q.What does it mean for you to come from Weston?
RC: Its my birth place and I spent up to seven-years-old living there. The place has changed a lot but some of the places are still the same. I occasionally go to Weston and have some friends there.
Q.What is it like to be a racing driver?
RC: Aside from the obvious I get to drive fast cars but the travelling around the world, seeing new places really makes it extra special and when it's doing what I love doing it all happens so quick I am onto the next place. I used to average about 80 flights a year from America to New Zealand. The training is hard and there is a lot of pressure to perform when you have a team of 60 people behind you all wanting the same thing.
Q.What preparation do you put in place before the race?
RC: Debriefs after the previous race and data analysis, it’s a complex system the race cars have and we can look at everything during a whole practice session to the whole race. I am not a big fan of simulators but I do have some time on them before a race if I need it. Fitness-wise I have had some good trainers and currently I am working with a well known one in the motorsport world who had worked in Formula One and other types of categories.
Q.What is your favourite racing track and makes it so special?
RC: Bahrain has always treated me well because I think it suits my style. Le Mans is probably the most special.
Q.What was the scariest moment on track and what is the highest speed you have ever reached?
RC: The scariest moment would be in the wet at Monaco and we were all stuck behind a slower car. Typically the overtaking isn’t great there but the white lines and road markings became slippery. We don’t have ABS like in a road car or traction control so that year it was torrential rain. Highest speed would be Le Mans which in the night we hit about 210 miles per hour, sometimes more.
Q.What does the future hold in store for you?
RC: My future at the moment is pretty solid, trying to win the big races is always the aim and I am preparing for 2021, even with Covid-19, even better than before!
To keep up to date with the latest news check out Cullen's social media pages on Instagram @Ryancullenrace and Twitter @Ryancullenrace.