Ryan Sullivan

Ryan Geoffrey Sullivan (born 20 January 1975, in Fitzroy, Victoria) is a retired Australian international Motorcycle speedway rider who has won the Australian senior, Under-21, and Under-16 championships during his career.[1] Sullivan achieved a career best third in the 2002 Speedway Grand Prix, winning two of the ten Grand Prix run during the year.

Ryan Sullivan
Ryan Sullivan.JPG
Born (1975-01-20) 20 January 1975 (age 45)
Fitzroy, Victoria
Nationality Australia
WebsiteSullifan.com
Current club information
Career statusRetired
Polish leagueUnibax Torun
Russian leagueMega-Lada Togilatti
Swedish leagueIndianerna
Career history
1995–1997, 1999–2003
2006, 2008
1998, 2004–2005
Peterborough Panthers
Poole Pirates
Individual honours
1990, 1991South Australian Under-16 Champion
1991Australian Under-16 Champion
1993, 1996Australian Under-21 Champion
1995, 1996, 1997South Australian Champion
1995Overseas Champion
1997Intercontinental Champion
1997, 2003Golden Helmet of Pardubice (CZE)
2000Elite League Riders Champion
2004Australian Champion
2009Alfred Smoczyk Memorial winner
Team honours
1999World Team Cup
2001, 2002World Cup
1988, 1989, 1990, 1991South Australian U/16 Pairs Champion
1989, 1990, 1991Australian Under-16 Pairs Champion
1997Elite League Fours Winner
1997Swedish Allsvenskan
1999, 2001, 2004Elite League Champion
1999, 2004Elite League KO Cup Winner
1999Craven Shield Winner
2001, 2002, 2003Swedish Elitserien
2003Polish Extraleague

CareerEdit

AustraliaEdit

JuniorsEdit

Sullivan's family moved from Melbourne to Adelaide in the late 1970s, and as a child Sullivan played Australian Rules Football, but became interested in speedway when it became obvious that he was not of the ideal build to be a league footballer.

His parents bought him a junior speedway bike and he had his first ride at the Olympic Park Speedway in Mildura in 1985, although his home track was the Sidewinders Speedway in the Adelaide suburb of Wingfield, a 112m long track run by the Sidewinders Junior Speedway Club solely aimed at junior Motorcycle speedway development. Within a few seasons Sullivan was seen as one of the best junior riders in South Australia, winning the South Australian Under-16 Individual title in 1990 and 1991 while winning the Pairs Championships in 1988, 1989, 1990 and 1991.

Sullivan finished in second place at the 1990 Australian Under-16 Championship in Perth behind future Australian team mate and three time World Champion Jason Crump. He would go one better on 12 January 1991 winning his first individual Australian title at his home track in Adelaide.

Ryan Sullivan won three Australian Under-16 Pairs Championships, first in 1989 with that year's National Individual Champion Brett Tomkins, and backing that up in 1990 teaming with fellow Adelaide rider Troy Norvil. He won his third and last junior pairs title on 13 January 1991 paired with Brett Woodifield, a week before his 16th birthday at which time he would graduate into the senior ranks. Due to e missed winning the

SeniorsEdit

Sullivan's first senior speedway championship came on 14 April 1991 when he won the track championship at the Westline Speedway in South Australia's "steel city" Whyalla, just three months after graduating to the senior ranks. Sullivan was unbeaten in the heats to finish on 12 points, 4 clear of meeting favourite Brett Tomkins before going on to win the final from Paul Schevienen and Troy Norvill.

After having gained his motor mechanic qualifications at age 19, Sullivan was regarded one of the best young riders in Australia, going on to win three South Australian Championships in succession in 1995, 1996 and 1997, and the Australian Under-21 Championship in 1993 and 1996 (the championship was not held in 1994 or 1995). Other than his 1993 Under-21 title which was won at the Olympic Park Speedway in Mildura, his 1996 U/21 title and his state title wins came at his home track, the North Arm Speedway. As North Arm closed at the end of the 1997 season, Sullivan is the last rider to win the SA Championship at the track.

One of the first big wins of Sullivan's career came when he took out Round 4 of the 1996 Australian Speedway Masters Series 500 at the 510 metres (560 yd) Wayville Showground at home in Adelaide, holding out England's multiple Long Track World Champion Simon Wigg in the final.

Sullivan scored his first podium finish in the Australian Championship in 1997 at the 450 metres (490 yd) Brisbane Exhibition Ground when he finished equal second on points with Jason Crump, but lost a run-off to Crump and was credited with third place. He again finished in third place in 2002 at the Wayville Showground.

In 2004, Sullivan became the first South Australian rider to win the Australian Championship since John Boulger in 1973 when he won the first year that the championship was run as a series (held over 3 rounds), rather than the single meeting format that had been in place since the first running of the title in 1926. Sullivan was undefeated over the three rounds held at the Gold Coast, Gosford and Olympic Park speedways. He defeated defending champion Leigh Adams who finished 2nd in all three rounds, with 1990 World #3 Todd Wiltshire finishing in third with 2 fourth and 1 third placings. This would prove to be Sullivan's only Australian Championship win and the final time he stood on the podium of the event.

EnglandEdit

Sullivan has spent most of his British career with the Peterborough Panthers, and although he had not ridden in Britain since 2006, in August 2008 he returned to ride for Peterborough until the end of that season. He has also ridden for the Poole Pirates but returned to the Panthers on a full transfer in 2006. He went on to ride in Sweden (Rospiggarna), Poland (Unibax Torun) and Russia (Togliatti). He returned to Peterborough in 2012 to replace the injured Kenneth Bjerre, but suffered a hand injury which ended his season and led to announcing his retirement from the sport in March 2013.[2]

InternationalEdit

Sullivan qualified for the 1995 and 1996 Under-21 World Championships. He finished third in 1995 at the Kaanaa Speedway Stadium in Tampere, Finland (won by Jason Crump). Sullivan finished in a 4-way tie on 12 points and defeated Tomáš Topinka (Poland), Kai Laukkanen (Finland) and Ben Howe (England) in a runoff to claim third place. In his final shot at winning the title before turning 22, he improved to second in 1996 behind Poland's Piotr Protasiewicz (who scored a 15-point maximum) at the Speedwaybahn in Olching, Germany. Sullivan defeated Danish rider Jesper B. Jensen in a runoff to finish second in 1996 after both finished the meeting on 11 points.

Sullivan's first big international career win came when he defeated triple-Australian Champion Leigh Adams in a runoff to win the 1995 Overseas Final in Coventry, England. Sullivan became the first Australian winner of the Overseas Final which had been in place since 1981.

In 1997, Sullivan became the first Australian to win the Intercontinental Final when he led home an Aussie 1-2-3 (with Jason Crump and Craig Boyce) in Västervik, Sweden.

In both 1997 and 2003, Sullivan won the prestigious Golden Helmet of Pardubice at the Svítkov Stadion in Pardubice, Poland.

In 1999, Sullivan was part of the Australian team that took out the Speedway World Team Cup, Australia's first WTC win since 1976. He was also a member of the team when Australia won the Speedway World Cup in 2001 and 2002. He finished second in the SWC in 2003, third in 2007 and fourth in both 2006 and 2008.

Sullivan's last major win came in 2009 at the Alfred Smoczyk Memorial in Leszno, Poland.

Speedway Grand PrixEdit

Sullivan was a Speedway Grand Prix rider from 1998 until 2006 and won four Grand Prix meetings. In the 2002 Speedway Grand Prix series he won the British Grand Prix in Cardiff and the Slovenian Grand Prix in Krško. In the 2003 Speedway Grand Prix series he won the Swedish Grand Prix in Avesta and the Scandinavian Grand Prix in Gothenburg, Sweden.

In September 2008, he made it through to the Grand Prix Challenge – the final of the 2009 Grand Prix qualification rounds. Despite winning his first three heats, he only scored one point in his following two rides and failed to qualify for the 2009 Speedway Grand Prix.

World Final AppearancesEdit

World Team CupEdit

World CupEdit

Individual Under-21 World ChampionshipEdit

Speedway Grand Prix resultsEdit

Year Position Points Best Finish Notes
1998 7th 68 2nd Second in Polish Grand Prix
1999 10th 55 3rd Third in Poland II Grand Prix
2000 9th 62 2nd Second in British Grand Prix
2001 4th 80 3rd Third in Swedish Grand Prix
2002 3rd 158 Winner Won British and Slovenian Grand Prix
2003 9th 94 Winner Won Swedish and Scandinavian Grand Prix
2004 13th 65 4th
2005 14th 45 6th
2006 18th 10 4th

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Oakes, P.(2004). British Speedway Who's Who. ISBN 0-948882-81-6
  2. ^ "Aussie Star Sullivan Retires Archived 6 April 2013 at the Wayback Machine", speedway365.com, 18 March 2013. Retrieved 19 March 2013

External linksEdit