Sunday, 19 November 2017

Brabham's odd-ball races

Henley?s sports car legend, David Brabham reflects on odd-ball races.

Henley?s sports car legend, David Brabham reflects on odd-ball races:

If I get the opportunity to do some odd-ball races in between my full season commitments, I don?t mind doing them, and this year I got the chance to do some great events outside my FIA World Endurance Championship campaign with JRM Racing.

My Volkswagen Scirocco R Cup guest drive at Brands Hatch was loads of fun, competing against Damon Hill, Julian Bailey, Mark Blundell, Martin Donnelly and Perry McCarthy ? the old ?Rat Pack?. That was all before my time, but they kindly invited me to be an honorary member.

I managed to beat the gang, finishing as the top Legend driver and fifth overall. It was a great event and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I hadn?t raced at Brands Hatch for a long time but I?ve had a lot of success there, particularly in Formula 3. In fact, it?s a good track for all the family, Dad, my brothers and I have all won there, the straight is even named after Dad, so it was great to go back.

It was my second outing in the Volkswagen Scirocco R Cup, I raced in the series at Oschersleben back in 2010 and got third overall and top Legend then. It?s good to go and do these kinds of things because you get to drive something completely new and different; it makes you a better driver.

If my schedule allows, I always like to head back to Aussie and do some V8 Supercar races, so it was great to do the Armor All Gold Coast 600 with the other international drivers this year. Running with Lucky 7 Racing, we had a really good result with fifth in the first race on Saturday, but we had an even stronger run on Sunday. The car improved on certain parts of the track and I managed to go from 11th to first.

The team kept me in there as long as possible, I did a double stint but managed the tyres really well and our pace was pretty strong. By the time I changed over to my teammate, Tim Slade, we were third and the two cars in front hadn?t stopped yet. All of a sudden we?d gone from starting 11th to leading the race! We didn?t quite have the pace of the Triple Eight and FPR cars but we had the measure of everyone else and ended up with third highest points over the weekend, so for Tim that was a good shot in the arm for his championship.

It was a really special weekend as there was a tribute dinner for Dad at the Royal Pines Resort. It was a real shame my nephew Matthew wasn?t there as it was the first time that the family, with all my brothers and their children, had joined together and it was very special. The date for the dinner was changed just so we could make it, which was amazing. It was a lovely evening and there was lots of stuff on auction and silent auction that Dad donated to raise money for Kidney Health Australia.

I know Dad is delighted to see a third generation of Brabhams making their way in the racing world. It?s unusual to have a family that?s got three generations doing as well as we have done. Matthew is a bit further down the road than Sam in terms of experience, he did a great job in winning the USF2000 Championship and next year he?ll race in Star Mazda, so the legacy continues and it?s an exciting time for those of us that are still racing!

Sam moved up to the Senior Rotax Max karting class this year and gained valuable experience at the fiercely competitive UK national level, and at some key international events in Europe ? all invaluable in building his knowledge base for moving out of karts and into single-seaters, which is what we?re looking at for 2013.

There?s exciting news in that the new Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship will be part of the British Touring Car Championship package from 2013, which makes it a very attractive prospect and something we?re looking at quite closely. I did Formula Ford when I was coming up through the ranks and I feel that it?s a very important championship for any young driver. So that?s potentially the next step for Sam and we?re working towards finding the partners to help make that happen.

My stint in V8 Supercars came amongst a big trip, five weeks away from home racing in Japan, Australia, and China. When I was in Australia I was asked if I?d like to be the guest driver for the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia in the inaugural Shanghai Sportscar Champions Festival, and I thought ?why not, let?s have some fun.?

I drove the car for the first time in practice and track conditions were changing all the time so it was difficult to get a proper read of the car. When it came to qualifying I had to bed-in brakes on an old set of wets and we just completely missed the window in terms of getting a lap time. So I went for a set of slicks, hoping the track would dry out. It didn?t and I ended up down the back in 17th and had a tall ask to get up the front!

Come the second race on Sunday, I got up to fourth in the results, which I?ll take after starting 17th. There were quite a few safety cars and yellow flags but other than that it was great. I met a lot of really nice people and Porsche looked after me very well. There are some good drivers down there so it was interesting to be there and a great way to finish off the season.

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