Brabham Is Back On The Race Track After 27 Years—And Wins From Pole On Its Debut At Brands Hatch!
When the Brabham team departed Formula 1 with a whimper in 1992 you would be forgiven for thinking that was the last we would see of one of the most famous names in racing. And indeed there was nothing for the next quarter century and more. But David Brabham—son of the revered late marque co-founder Sir Jack Brabham—framed plans recently to revive the famous Brabham name in racing with the ultimate goal of competing at Le Mans in 2022, a race which David won in 2009.
And the effort has since progressed at pace. A new Brabham, a BT62 hypercar, was unveiled in 2018 and earlier this year it broke the lap record for a closed-cockpit car on the famous Mount Panorama Circuit at Bathurst in Australia. Due to demand, there’s a road-legal version of the BT62 as well.
Now, in its latest step towards Le Mans, Brabham has just been back racing on track after a 27-year absence, with its BT62 taking part in the Britcar Endurance Championship’s season-closing round at Brands Hatch. And Brabham there won its first race back from pole position! Appropriately the Brabham took the chequered flag on Brands Hatch’s Brabham Straight, a place where Sir Jack and the Brabham team have enjoyed plenty of success.
The driving this time was done by David Brabham and his co-driver Will Powell. The 5.4-liter normally-aspirated V8-powered BT62 was, due to balance of performance measures, restricted to 60% of its throttle and was running ballast. And as well as driving at night it was clear that the driving pair would have to cope with sodden conditions.
David nevertheless immediately put the BT62 on pole for the ‘Into the Night’ race in a wet-but-drying qualifying session, his best almost two seconds faster than the quickest rival. Powell then did the opening stint of the one-hour race, driving well although–struggling with a misted windscreen–he during the stint ceded the lead to Ollie Hancock’s BMW.
David Brabham then took over in the mandatory pitstop and re-took the lead at two-thirds’ distance then moved clear to win by 11.5s, with a fine display of wet-weather driving. The car got fastest lap to boot. It was the first win for a Brabham car driven by a Brabham since 1970, when Sir Jack won F1’s season-opening South African Grand Prix.
“To come here and get our first race win is phenomenal,” David said. “My Dad won here in 1966, in a Brabham, so for me to come here and win in a Brabham is a very emotional moment for me. In terms of the journey that Brabham Automotive has been on to this point, it’s quite incredible.”
Powell was similarly pleased. “We had our fair share of things to deal with, in terms of the conditions,” he noted. “We all came together as a team, though, and I’m both super-appreciative for the opportunity and very grateful to the team, who worked so hard to make sure the car was ready. It was great to be a part of this moment in the company’s history, to drive the BT62 on its racing debut and bring it back in so that David could go out and do his thing–win races.”
The team though was unable to follow up its success in the two-hour race two the following day, as the car had to retire early on with alternator problems.
Images courtesy of Brabham