David Brabham Keen to Fly the Home Flag

Australian international sportscar racing star David Brabham is delighted at the prospect of returning to South Australia to do battle on the streets of Adelaide. Le Mans Series founder Don Panoz reached agreement with the SA...

Australian international sportscar racing star David Brabham is delighted at the prospect of returning to South Australia to do battle on the streets of Adelaide.

Le Mans Series founder Don Panoz reached agreement with the SA government recently to stage "Adelaide¹s Race of a Thousand Years" on December 31, 2000.

Brabham has fond memories of the Adelaide Grand Prix circuit and has promised race fans they are in for a spectacular and unique experience when the stars and the cars of the American Le Mans Series hit town.

"When Don asked me some time ago where would be the best place to stage a race in Australia - the first word I said to him was Adelaide," Brabham said.

"The people of Adelaide have proved they know how to put on a great event and the party atmosphere of the town will fit in perfectly with the series as well.

"It will be a great finale to the championship and I can¹t wait to drive these cars on that circuit."

Driving for the Panoz sportscar team, Brabham narrowly missed winning the 1999 Le Mans Series title, and is hopeful of completing "unfinished business" when he competes in Adelaide this year.

"I came very close to winning last year¹s championship, but our team was pretty unlucky at the final round," Brabham said.

"I would like to wrap up the championship well before Adelaide, but the way the points system is structured, it is pretty likely the title will go right down to the wire again.

"I¹ve got some unfinished business to take care of this year, but the 2000 championship is going to be extremely tough.

"I am also really looking forward to contesting a major event in Adelaide with a car capable of winning.

"When I raced in Formula One, I really had no chance of success, but I will be armed with a machine able to do the job next year."

Brabham contested the 1990 Australian Formula One Grand Prix in Adelaide with the Brabham team and completed his final F1 race with Simtek in 1994.

While success in Formula One eluded Brabham in South Australia, he used the streets of Adelaide to stamp himself as a rising star in 1986 and 87.

"I finished 2nd in Formula Ford in 1986 and then won the CAMS Gold Star in Formula Mondiale open wheelers the following year," Brabham said.

"I actually started from the rear of the grid in the Gold Star race and still came through to win. It was probably one of the most memorable races of my entire career and certainly helped give my career a boost."

Brabham believes the people of Adelaide will be amazed at the performance of the machines in the Le Mans Series and thrilled with the spectacular action - particularly at night.

"With three different classes, there is always a lot happening on track and you have to be extremely careful with the traffic," Brabham said.

"Once the sun goes down these cars are going to be spectacular under brakes. The brake temperatures get incredibly hot and you really can¹t see it in the daylight, but at night, they glow really brightly.

"There is also so many different types of cars competing ... BMW, Porsche, Ferrari, Panoz, etc and the hole championship has a completely different feel than other events like Formula One.

"Race fans are able to get close to the action, the drivers and the cars - there are no huge fences locking us away from the people and whole event is far more personal.

"I can¹t wait for next New Year¹s eve."

The team of David Brabham and Eric Bernard campaigned the new Panoz LMP-1 Roadster and came from a DNF at Sebring to challenge for the Le Mans Series driver title.

The pair finished second at Mosport to Panoz teammates Johnny O'Connell and Jan Magnussen, took second at Sears Point, then won at both Portland and the Road Atlanta Petit Le Mans to get back into the hunt.

They were tied, three points behind Elliott Forbes-Robinson, for the Le Mans Series driver title going into the season closer at Las Vegas and made a strong bid that ended in engine failure.

Paul Ryan paul@pr2.com.au

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