Irish racer Ryan Cullen is the latest signing to the 2013 Toyota Racing Series. The 21-year old racer is coming south with his sights set on some tough competition on challenging, unfamiliar circuits and will contest the TRS championship with New Zealand-based team M2 Competition.

Cullen says New Zealand’s home-grown premier race series has gained a reputation in the northern hemisphere for being a place where rising race stars can hone their race-craft and sharpen racing skills in a short but intense five-week, fifteen race format. After showing early promise in karting, Cullen arrived in the British Formula Ford series this year and fought his way through to sixth in his rookie appearance with three podium finishes along the way.

With that series now complete, Cullen aims to race with Status GP in the GP3 Championship next year. He is engaged in a series of track tests in other categories which – along with his TRS campaign – will help define the next step in his northern hemisphere racing career.

“I am doing four days of official post-season GP3 tests with Status GP this week at Jerez in Spain and will continue in Portugal in early November. I have done two days British Formula 3 testing, with more planned in late November and early December, and then it’s into TRS in January,” he says.

Cullen will be joined by the 2012 Toyota Racing Series champion, Nick Cassidy, who is also testing for Status this week at the Jerez GP3 session.

With the northern hemisphere circuits closed for winter, Cullen says he is looking forward to the Toyota series and the intense racing experience it offers. He knows he will have to arrive as prepared as possible with a competitive mindset.

“Coming from the northern hemisphere I am relying on completing some limited simulator work to get to know the circuits. I know I’m going to have to get to grips with that fairly quickly and be prepared to learn quickly. I am going down to NZ because I know it will be tough. You never get an easy win in the southern hemisphere in any competitive sport,” he says.

Graduates of the 2012 TRS have made quite a name for themselves in UK and European championships this year and the endorsements of some of these racers helped drive his decision to commit. In particular Jordan King and Josh Hill enthusiastically recommended TRS to Ryan and his father Patrick, who will also travel to New Zealand for the series. Cullen’s GP3 tests are with the Status GP team, which has strong links with Mark Pilcher and Jonathon Moury of M2 Competition. Pilcher says for Status, the opportunity to see drivers placed in a high-pressure short-duration championship during the northern hemisphere winter is invaluable. M2 Competition has confirmed it is planning to run five cars in the 2013 championship.

Toyota Racing Series category manager Barrie Thomlinson says the 2012 series delivered young racers like Ryan into a range of championships in Europe and the UK and many of them have gone on to produce some impressive results.

“We welcome Ryan onboard and hope that he enjoys his TRS experience and his time spent here in New Zealand as so many have over the past eight years. We are extremely proud that several of last year’s international and local competitors have already confirmed they will return which is a fantastic endorsement of the benefits the series has on offer.

They will be joined by a new group of talented young rookies with some exciting announcements to follow in the coming weeks, and of course we are always keen to talk to all interested drivers about TRS,” says an enthusiastic Thomlinson.