Interview with David Brabham

As part of our extensive coverage of the Le Mans 24 hours 2005, Autosport-Atlas will be bringing you a series of exclusive interviews of the key people involved in this year's event

Interview with David Brabham

In the first of the series, Autosport-Atlas talked to Aston Martin driver David Brabham.

Here, Brabham gives his thoughts on how competitive the Aston DBR9 could be at its first 24-hour race, the pace of their main rival Corvette, and how he manages to sleep during the race itself.

Driver: David Brabham(AUS)
Teammates: Darren Turner (GBR)/Stephane Sarrazin (FRA)
Car: #59, Aston Martin DBR9 6.0
Class: GT1

Q. David, Aston Martin's test pace was incredible. You were more than three seconds faster than your nearest competitor - the Cirtek Ferrari 550 - and nearly four seconds quicker than your Sebring 12-hours rival Corvette. Was the test better than you expected and why were you so fast?

David Brabham: "We went to Le Mans with a game plan and the car performed well straight out of the box. We have done a complete 24-hour test with the car, and the car has been very reliable.

"As far as our pace is concerned there was a lot of confusion on how fast GT1 cars should be going. Organisers don't think GT1 cars should be going faster than 3m 55s round the track, but our information was that we could go out as fast as possible for test day and in the race - with possible penalties to slow the cars down to be considered for next year's event. I have no idea what the ACO are going to do in the future. We just did what we were told by the team.

"Basically we think that Corvette stuck to that at 3m55 area. Their cars are faster than their times showed."

Q. So do you think Corvette were effectively sand-bagging at the test?

Brabham: "The five seconds we have in hand is massively flattering to us. There is no doubt they can go much faster. Look at their split times. They will be competitive.I have no reason to believe it won't be a close battle between us and Corvette but I'm not sure who will be the faster car."

Q. Will Corvette be your only rival then?

Brabham: "The Ferrari is a proven car but has got penalties after last year. They aren't quite as fast but if we have any problems they will be right there. I do believe we are faster than them but you can't rule them out as far as the win is concerned."

Q. The Aston Martin won its first race at the Sebring 12 hours and then its second race - the Tourist Trophy at Silverstone. That's two wins from two races. Wasn't this only supposed to be a learning year for the car and team?

Brabham: "Yes. When I joined the programme this was very much going to be a learning year, and we were just going to spend the time on a development programme to prove the car, with a view to Aston producing and selling more to competitors for 2006. But the performance in the races has raised our expectations.

"Our first race at Sebring was odd because we were not sure how competitive we were going to be. But as the race neared we would have been happy if we got inside the top three. Then, as the race unfolded our pace compared to Corvette meant we were actually the closest battle on the track. Our lap times weren't quicker, but not by much and we now know we have improved our car quite a lot since.

"We had some minor problems in early testing but I have no reason to think we can't last the distance at Le Mans. I'm confident in the reliability of the car. We can battle for the win. We can battle with Corvette."

Q. Has this year exceeded even your own expectations?

Brabham: "At the beginning of the year, considering we had a brand new programme and a brand new car then, yes. But with Prodrive on board perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised. They have engineered the car very well. We've only had a few problems since we started testing and it has all gone well since."

Q. Are you disappointed you won't be racing for the overall victory? How does it feel racing a GT1 car, when you know that barring a major disasters wiping out the prototypes you can only win your class?

Brabham: "I enjoy driving prototypes and it's not for me to say whether they should or shouldn't be at Le Mans. If I went there knowing I had a car to win overall then I would be disappointed if I didn't win. But I am going there knowing I don't, and my job is to go and win GT1 for Aston. That is fine and that is what I'll try and do."

Q. Do you actually manage to get any sleep during the race?

Brabham: "I've always been able to sleep. We have a trailer and a motorhome, with a bed and a shower. But all I need is a chair and I can manage to sleep. I don't know if I'm in the monitory, and I do know that there are some drivers who don't sleep. But I'll get to 2am, decide to sleep and I can manage it fine until someone wakes me up and tells me I have to drive."

Q. Finally, what are your thoughts on how the car looks? Would you agree with the opinion that it will be the most beautiful car on the grid?

Brabham: "Yes, I definitely would. It is stunning. Everyone I speak to says that - it looks like a Le Mans Car should."

McNish Predicts Competitive Race
Previous article

McNish Predicts Competitive Race

Next article

Brabham: Corvette are Faster

Brabham: Corvette are Faster
Load comments
The unanswered questions that define WEC 2021's controversial ending Plus

The unanswered questions that define WEC 2021's controversial ending

OPINION: The deeply unsatisfying ending to a brilliant World Endurance Championship GTE Pro battle in Bahrain had Ferrari provisionally heading back from the desert as the victor. But Porsche plans to appeal the outcome, which rests on a number of confusing elements that have yet to be satisfactorily explained

Nov 9, 2021
How the WEC's heavyweight duel reached its controversial flashpoint Plus

How the WEC's heavyweight duel reached its controversial flashpoint

The Ferrari versus Porsche fight for the World Endurance Championship's GTE Pro title had been a finely-poised affair, right up until Alessandro Pier Guidi's punt on Michael Christensen in the closing stages of the Bahrain 8 Hours handed Ferrari a provisional title, pending Porsche's appeal. Here's how the controversy played out

Nov 8, 2021
The remarkable fixes Toyota used to avert another Le Mans disaster Plus

The remarkable fixes Toyota used to avert another Le Mans disaster

The 1-2 finish achieved by Toyota at this year's Le Mans 24 Hours was a result that will have surprised few, given its status as pre-event favourite. But the result was anything but straightforward, as worsening fuel pressure concerns required the team's drivers and engineers to pursue "creative fixes" on the fly. Here is the full story of how it reached the end without a lengthy pit visit

Le Mans
Nov 3, 2021
How the #7 Toyota squad moved closer to clinching WEC's 2021 title Plus

How the #7 Toyota squad moved closer to clinching WEC's 2021 title

In the penultimate round of the 2021 World Endurance Championship, a better run of tyre wear for Mike Conway, Jose Maria Lopez and Kamui Kobayashi brought the Toyota trio its third win from five events, as the #7 squad put one hand on the title. Here's how the first of the WEC's two Bahrain enduros played out

Nov 1, 2021
The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert Plus

The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert

It's 50 years since Jo Siffert was killed in his prime at Brands Hatch. The Swiss scored just two world championship wins in a Formula 1 career spent largely with privateer teams, but showed on numerous occasions in single-seaters and in sportscars with Porsche that he could beat any of the best drivers of his era given the right equipment

Formula 1
Oct 24, 2021
Inside the Le Mans finish too barmy for Hollywood Plus

Inside the Le Mans finish too barmy for Hollywood

Team WRT has been at the forefront of GT racing for years and made a successful move to prototypes for 2021, capped by an LMP2 win on its Le Mans debut. It could've been even better had the race been one lap shorter, when its cars ran 1-2, but the stranger-than-fiction reality has spurred the team to reach greater heights

Le Mans
Oct 16, 2021
The standout memories of Le Mans 2021 Plus

The standout memories of Le Mans 2021

OPINION: With four of the five Hypercar entries unproven in a 24-hour race, it would not have been unexpected for at least one of them to suffer serious reliability trouble. That they all managed to make it through the race relatively unscathed, says GARY WATKINS, was something of a surprise.

Le Mans
Aug 24, 2021
Why Toyota's Le Mans victory was not as simple as it looked Plus

Why Toyota's Le Mans victory was not as simple as it looked

Toyota scored its fourth Le Mans 24 Hours victory and a 1-2, with the #7 car of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez beating the #8. But although it looked straightforward from the outside, Toyota faced serious problem that had to be solved with some quick-thinking and ingenuity

Le Mans
Aug 24, 2021