Full Name- Damian Shane Cudlin
Occupation- Motorcycle Racer/ Instructor/ Journalist
Lives- Gera, Germany
Likes- Winning, Racing Motorcycles, Fast cars, Mountain Biking, Wakeboarding, Roadtrips, BBQ’s, Guitars, Money.
Dislikes- Losing, Cheats, Tight asses, Bad drivers, Britney Spears, Shopping, Snoring, Tax.
Fave Food- Italian
Fave Drink- Ginger Ale
Fave Band- Metallica
Fave Movie- The Hangover
Injuries- Broken Left foot, Broken Left heel, Broken right ankle, Broken left ankle, Broken left wrist, Broken right wrist,Broken right arm, Broken right collarbone, Broken Back.
First Bike- PW50
First Race- 7 years of age
Achievements-1995 Australian Junior Sidecar Champion
1996 Australian Junior Dirt Track Champion
1997 Australian Junior Dirt Track Champion
1998 Australian Junior Dirt Track Champion
Australian Junior Long Track Champion
1999 6th Australian 125 GP Championship
2000 Formula Xtreme Privateer Champion
7th Formula Xtreme Championship
2001 5th Australian Superbike Championship
2002 4th Final Race World Endurance Championship
2003 9th World Endurance Championship
2004 6th Australian Superbike Championship
2005 4th World Endurance Championship
2006 3rd World Endurance Championship
2007 3rd World Endurance Championship
2008 8th World Endurance Championship
3rd IDM German Supersport Championship
2009 7th World Endurance Championship
2010 IDM German Supersport Champion
7th Sachsenring Moto 2 Grand Prix
2011 2nd World Endurance Championship
MOTOGP debut in Japanese Grand Prix- Pramac Racing
4th IDM Superbike Championship
2012 2nd World Endurance Championship
Moto 2 Wild Cards- Dutch & German Grand Prix
Damian’s life with motorcycles began very early one Christmas morning in the country town of Taree, Australia.
What was parked under the Christmas Tree, a brand new PW50 Yamaha, would change Damian’s life forever.
Born in Sydney, Damian spent the first 5 years of his life living in Sydney’s Western Suburbs before moving to Taree on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales with his younger Sister Desiree, younger brother Alex, and Mum & Dad, Shane and Annette.
The move was originally planned to be a getaway from the city hustle and bustle, and the 11acre farm was occupied by Ducks, Chooks and Horses and not Motocross jumps. That all changed however when Damian got his first bike.
Soon the animals lived in fear of Damian and his little red PW 50, and before long Shane had begun building burms and stutters for his son to practice on.
Living next door to the local Dirt Track Racing complex, Old Bar Raceway, meant it wasn’t long before Damian got sick of chasing chooks around and wanted to go racing. He was 7years old at the time and began his racing apprenticeship in the ‘handicap’ races they had with the bigger bikes. Although given an unfair advantage at the start of every event, Damian raced his little bike completely unaware and rode as hard as he could. Pumping his fists after winning against the ‘big boys’, Damian’s passion for competition began.
Soon Damian outgrew his little PW and with his younger brother nipping at his heels, Shane decided to purchase a 2nd Hand Suzuki DS80 for Damian and pass the PW50 down to Alex.
The DS was a great little machine as Damian honed his craft on the farm, and across the road at the dirt track club.
One afternoon Damian watched a video Shane had put on the television. It was ‘On Any Sunday’ and the movie changed Damian’s plan on everything. From then on Damian only wanted to be a Professional Motorcycle Racer.
A good friend of the family, Pat Carney had seen Damian riding his DS around the farm and knew of his yearning to go racing seriously, but it was clear to him that the DS80 just wouldn’t cut it in the bigger competitions. He told Damian if he really wanted to race seriously, and if he put in everything he had, than he’d buy him a new YZ80 Yamaha Motocross bike. It wasn’t something Shane took lightly so he had a serious talk with Damian to decide what to do. Damian decided to go racing.
Damian’s new PJ Carney Interiors sponsored YZ80 was a weapon and the new steed took Damian, now 10years old, some time to handle, but it was already time for a big competition, the New South Wales Motocross Championships. He lined up on the Lake Macquarie grid confident of taking home the trophy when suddenly the gate dropped. The field charged into the first turn and over the first set of doubles, and Damian realised he was in for a shock. Crossing the line in 1st place was a then unknown Jay Marmont. Damian finished 2nd last.
It wasn’t something Damian wasn’t used to, losing. He had always excelled in all sports in school, was leading the way in every team you can mention from swimming, running, to soccer or cricket, but it seemed it was racing a bike that he struggled. That year was a tough one for Damian as he crashed and lost and crashed some more. One night at home in the bath, Damian asked himself if it worth doing at all. With the insistence of his Dad that he tried for one more year, he decided to give it another go.
The following year saw the Cudlin clan travel just about every weekend of the year in their Toyota Troupe Carrier and run down Caravan, racing bikes somewhere in the country. The boys attended Stephen Galls ‘University of Motocross’ several times, and practiced daily on the farm. Shane even used to pick Damian and Alex up after school and head down to the beach to practice power sliding on the wet sand. It was a tough year financially for the Cudlin’s, but at the end of the season Damian saw a light at the end of the tunnel when he finished 3rd in the Australian Junior Dirt Track Championships. In his presentation speech that day he told all the kids who were struggling not to give up, and that he’d be back the following year to win the Australian Championship. Next year he did just that.
After Damian won his 1st Australian Championship, he then dominated his age group for the next 5years and went on to win 4more titles. 5 Aussie Championships in total, 25 state titles and swag of other victories put Damian in good stead for his transition to Road Racing.
Shane was called by Tony Hatton who told him about a new Junior Road Race series that was starting on Moriwaki 80cc bikes. He knew of Damian’s exploits and advised Shane that it was the perfect way of getting into Road Racing. After some hair brain idea’s of building their own 80cc road racer, Shane decided to bight the bullet and buy a new Moriwaki. It proved to be a good decision as Damian got in at the ground level with other top Juniors in the country all looking to give road racing a go. Juniors such as Ant West, Chris Vermeulen, Broc Parkes and Josh Brookes to name a few. Damian tasted success in the class, setting lap records, winning a number of races and getting the chance to race in Japan in the 80cc GP where he finished 2nd.
Things were looking up and when Damian turned 16, Honda Australia supported him in his venture to race a 125GP bike in the Australian Championships in his debut ‘Senior’ year.
But it was to be a horrendous season. After purchasing a faulty batch of piston rings Damian spent most of the year in hospital from constantly crashing the bike from engine seizures.
It wasn’t until long time sponsor and family friend Dean Evans offered his own Yamaha R1 to Damian to compete in the first round of the Australian Formula Xtreme Series at Eastern Creek. Damian was willing to ride anything other than his ‘evil’ 125, but jumping to a Superbike was a big step particularly for a 17year old. After Dean’s insistence Damian decided to try it out and shocked the paddock when he went out and won his debut Superbike race ahead of Factory riders Marty Atlee and Kevin Curtain.
It was the turning point in Damian’s career as he continued to impress in the 2000 season. Damian finished 7th in the series and won the Privateers Cup along with a shiny new Yamaha R1.
For 2001 Damian signed with his first team to ride alongside New Zealand’s Superbike Champ Tony Rees. It was the BIKEBIZ Yamaha team, and the private family atmosphere of the squad suited Damian perfectly. His results also began to climb when he won another Superbike race in the Australian Superbike opener in Western Australia. His consistent speed saw him emerge as Shawn Giles’s biggest threat for the 2001 Australian Superbike Championship title until a twist of fate was to change Damian’s life again.
In a freak accident with another rider in the Warm Up session of the Formula Xtreme Series at Eastern Creek, Damian was rushed to hospital in a serious condition. He had suffered severe spinal injuries. On the very same weekend, Damian also lost his Grandfather who had been a big fan of his racing. In the weeks that followed Damian was told he may never walk again. It was shattering for Damian. His boyhood dream of being a World Champion had been taken away, his life was to be changed forever, and he was just 18years old.
Shane and Annette fought tooth and nail with the doctors at the Westmead Hospital in Sydney and demanded other opinions from other surgeons as Damian’s condition continued to improve in the hospital.
It was long term friends Michael Edgely and Peter Smylie who had been in touch with one of the world’s top neurosurgeons Dr Jeff Askin. Dr Askin agreed to take a look at Damian’s X-rays and after consultation decided to try a ‘natural’ heeling technique involving Damian laying completely flat for 9 weeks. The treatment wasn’t without risks and if it didn’t work Damian still faced the prospect of surgery, but with nothing to lose the Cudlin’s chose to take Dr Askin’s advice.
It was to be a long hard recovery, from 9weeks on his back, 8more weeks in full body plaster cast, with a final 6weeks in a plastic cast, but the advice was the best Damian’s ever taken and Dr Askin became responsible for saving his career. In just 6months from being told he may spend his life in a wheelchair, Damian climbed back aboard his BikeBiz R1 at Eastern Creek and showed he’d lost none of his speed.
Although Damian lost his shot at the Australian Superbike crown, and slipped to 5th in the final rankings without competing in the final 2 rounds many still thought Damian had what it takes to race at the top, problem was nobody thought he’d come back from an injury like his and be fast again.
After BIKEBIZ left racing at the end of 2001, Damian had no other offers so decided to pack everything up and head to Europe. Having just recovered from his back injury, at the tender age of 18, Damian and his girlfriend Amy headed to England in search of fame and fortune.
The year was spent mostly on the side lines getting one off rides here and there, whilst each working 2jobs to pay the rent. It was a mostly fruitless season until former team mate Tony Rees called Russell Benney from the Phase One Endurance team and gave Damian a big wrap. It led to being a reserve rider at the Bol’Dor for the Phase One team where Damian impressed all poling his session. Damian was instantly given the opportunity to race for the team at the following race and final round of the 2002 World Endurance Championship. Alongside Brit Mike Edwards, the pair rode to an impressive 4th place finish. It became a relationship that would blossom in the future with Phase One.
After a trying stint in Europe riding various machines with mixed success, Damian was offered a full factory ride in the Australian Superbike Championship with Team Suzuki alongside the very experienced Shawn Giles. It was a deal to good to refuse and Damian and Amy moved back to Oz to start their assault on the Australian Superbike Championship.
In a season of highs and lows, Damian struggled desperately to get to grips with the wild Suzuki. In places he was the fastest rider on the track, and in others he battled helplessly. It was a combination that never beared much fruit as he finished 6th in Superbike Series.
Desperate to show what he could do given the right chance Damian spent the 2004 off season negotiating with a number of teams until Russell Benney made him an offer for the 2005 season with Phase One. 2004 had been a horrible season for the Phase One squad, but they were keen redeem themselves in 2005 and had faith in Damian’s ability. Damian too knew that Russell had always been able to get him comfortable on his bike, so the pair teamed up and Damian signed to ride in the 2005 World Endurance Championship.
The season put Damian’s career back on track, as he impressed all with his speed and reliability. Alongside Andy Notman and Warwick Nowland, Damian carried the Phase One team to 4th in World Championship with a sensational 2nd place podium finish at the final race of the 2005 season. Damian was back. The kid who broke his back just 4years ago was now a front runner in the World Endurance Championship.
Damian resigned for Phase One in 2006 to repay the faith Russell had always shown in him. The partnership continued to blossom as Damian would climb the podium 3more times in the season on the way to 3rd in the World Endurance Championship.
For 2007 Damian was signed by the ever growing Yamaha Austria Racing Team to ride alongside Igor Jerman and Steve Martin. The season had some highs and some lows, however with more podium appearances Damian and YART finished 3rd in the World Championship standings for the second time, a single point shy of 2nd. Having agreed to a deal with YART for the 2008 season, the relationship turned sour weeks before the opening round of the 2008 series and Damian was forced to return to an unconfirmed rider line up at Phase One Yamaha.
Dealt with yet another blow, Damian carried on regardless in the WEC and split his focus with the IDM Supersport Championship having scored a seat at SKM/Bike Promotion for the 2008 season. While his Endurance campaign was hampered with constant bad luck, Damian soon became a championship contender in his debut IDM assault. A mechanical failure in Oschersleben put an end to his championship hopes but the versatile Aussie would eventually finish 3rd in the final standings.
In 2009 Damian was lured to the US by an American Team to contest the AMA Supersport series, however after just 2 races the team faced financial woes and Damian was suddenly unemployed. Damian continued to race for Phase One in the World Endurance Championship while taking one off rides for various teams in the AMA series. While he impressed at various appearances in the US, including Superpole berths and a 5th place finish at Road America, political movements kept him from securing a competitive seat for 2010. The biggest blow came from Damian’s most trusted ally, Phase One, when the team dumped him in favour of a cheaper rider line up, despite having agreed to terms with Damian during the negotiation period.
In another testing time in his career, Damian decided to make another push back into Europe and agreed to a deal with Team MRC Austria for the 2010 IDM Supersport Championship. With a stroke of luck, Damian also secured a seat with the newly formed BMP Elf Honda Team to contest the entire 2010 World Endurance Championship alongside former WEC champ Matthiue Lagrive and the vastly experienced Werner Daemen.
2010 was a breakthrough year for Damian, as the often overlooked racer became harder to ignore with some sensational performances which included his first ever pole position in the World Endurance Championship, becoming the first Australian to win the IDM Supersport Championship, and a stunning come from behind ride to 7th place in his Moto2 Grand Prix debut at Sachsenring, Germany. “Damo” suddenly became a name on everyone’s lips and team owner Michael Bartholemy quickly recruited him as a development rider for the Marc VDS MotoGP project.
For 2011 Damian signed with Bartholemy’s BMW Endurance World Championship Team while also securing a place in Alpha Technik’s BMW IDM Superbike Team led by former team mate, Werner Daemen. In what was supposed to be a learning year in Superbike, Damian went into the final round at Hockenheim as a championship contender, eventually finishing 4th in the series.
Damian and his BMW Motorrad France Team also came painfully close to winning the World Championship in 2011, losing out by a margin of just 30 seconds at the final race in Qatar. In a dramatic finale, Damian and his BMW Motorrad France Team staged a heroic comeback from last position after being taken down at the beginning of the race, ironically by Damian’s former employer, Yamaha Austria Racing Team, only to finish 2nd at the flag and 2nd in the championship chase.
Perhaps the most exciting thing in Damian’s career so far though, was the late call to replace Loris Capirossi at Pramac Ducati in MotoGP. Having never ridden the bike, worked with the team, or even seen the circuit before, Damian impressed everybody with his ability to adapt to a notoriously difficult bike to ride and get run as high as 11th in the race before a holed radiator caused a crash which took him out of the race.
Damian impressed Ducati so much that they called him again, this time to replace the injured Hector Barbera at Aspar Ducati for the Phillip Island Grand Prix. In a dream come true for Damian, he eagerly awaited lining up on the grid for his home GP in the premier class of motorcycle racing. Unfortunately, after a promising start to the weekend, Damian suffered a massive “cold tyre” high side and was ruled out of the remainder of the race weekend.
Undeterred, Damian searched relentlessly for a GP ride and eventually found a place in the QMMF Racing Team to contest the 2012 Moto2 World Championship; a class that Damian showed so much promise in during a wild card performance in 2010. Bizarrely, the QMMF Team terminated Damian’s contract just one week before the opening grand prix at Qatar, leaving Damian on the sidelines.
Thankfully, the BMW Motorrad France Team remained convinced of Damian’s abilities and signed him alongside Sebastian Gimbert and Erwan Nigon for another shot at the title they so nearly claimed in 2011; The Endurance World Championship.
Damian’s story has been one of remarkable comebacks, tests of will, and burning determination. For the rest of his story, stay tuned, as it’s only just begun…