By Connor Steel
FAREHAM will see another sporting inspiration later this year as injured biker and former soldier Paul Fullick joined Team Brit, with the motorsport competitor hoping to become the first disabled group to race in the Le Mans 24 hour this summer.
This motorsport event will occur between June 11-12, 2022, and is a twenty-four hour race held at the Circuit da la Sarthe in France. It will be an endurance test in which many drivers are needed, a task that Team Brit are hoping to complete and smash some barriers at the same time.
Alongside being one of the drivers in France, the now Southampton based forty-year old is now preparing for his first season of racing in the Britcar Championship in 2022. Fullick will be driving the team’s BMW 118i which is fitted with innovative hand controls.
Joining the army and completing his university course, Fullick first started out competing around the world with the Forces in skydiving in his early career; featuring in many competitions and inter-team events.
However this was sadly ended in 2006 after an injury forced his retirement from the army. On a diving expedition in Egypt, Fullick suffered a severe decompression sickness and had to undergo medical treatment; leaving him with limited walking ability reduced strength, problems speaking and communicating.
But motorsport and cars have always been a passion since Fullick’s early days, starting as a teenager before working for himself as a qualified mechanic. The driver also travelled to Gambia in 2008 as a fundraising exercise that rose over £20,000 for charity.
Three years later Fullick drove from John O’Groats to Land’s End on 50cc mopeds with friends for a new charity challenge, which saw the group raise £25,000 for a London neurological hospital and set an unofficial Word Record in the progress.
2018 saw the racing enthusiast complete the Taffy Dakar, an event in Wales that offers participants to test their endurance and network for charities. He has further raced with the British Motorcycle Racing Club, as well as working as a support mechanic for events all over the world.
Aside from driving Fullick has experience in property as he brought a now-thriving Hampshire café and further purchased a house in Gosport that he renovated by hand in 2014, learning skills using a range of websites such as Google and YouTube. He also occasionally works as an extra on film and TV sets having first worked on the film ‘Band of Brothers’ whilst in the military.
Fullick has also become involved in promoting road safety and has gained qualifications in track / road teaching for fellow motorsport lovers, but last year saw another blow for the racer as he suffered an accident on a touring trip in Wales. He ultimately lost his right leg due to the injuries.
But instead of letting that define him, the forty year old’s love for biking and motorsport has only strengthened as a resul; preparing for what will be a huge test of character and endurance in a much-respected international contest in the humid French summer.
In an interview featuring on the Team Brit Website confirming the news, Fullick stated his huge excitement at joining the group and hopes to be part of the eight-men team that will attempt to break down the barriers regarding disability in the sport. He said:
“Even when lying in the road, realising the severity of my injuries, I knew I would smash my recovery, I would get straight back to racing and I would win. I was in hospital for a month, and a week after being discharged I was back riding a bike to visit the team at the cafe, then four weeks later I took part in an off-road event in Wales”.
“I was visited by the charity Blesma soon after the accident who told me about the work of Team BRIT which I knew was something I wanted to learn more about. I had been told by specialists that it would be at least two years before I could get back to things like racing, so I knew I was going to prove them wrong. By October I had completed my race licence test and now I’m signed up with the team.”
“The team is everything I’m about and I’m really excited about what’s ahead. Motorsport can be seen as quite an inaccessible industry for so many. There are very few disabled drivers and riders on the grid, and I want to be part of the movement to change that. I’m also passionate about championing inclusion for the LGBTQ+ community, and am the south area representative for the UK Gay Bikers Motorcycle Club. There are only eight openly gay professional racing drivers in the world and that has to change”.
“I’m at the very start of my journey with Team BRIT but the road ahead is incredibly exciting and we’re ready to make a massive impact next year. I’m very competitive and want to push myself in every way I can. Le Mans is in sight for the team, and I want to be part of the team that gets there.”
Readers can follow live coverage of the Le Mans 24 event via BT Sport later this year, whilst highlights are due to be shown on Eurosport. Exact times and details of programme are as yet unknown; viewers are asked to look for announcements in due course.
PICTURED BY TEAM BRIT: Paul Fullick stands proudly in front of motorsport vehicle