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."

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