Brabham Endures Challenging Spa 1000 Kilometres Sunday 10 May, 2009: David Brabham endured a challenging race for the Spa 1000 kilometres today, his first outing with Peugeot Sport ahead of the Le Mans 24 Hours next month. On-track contact...
Brabham Endures Challenging Spa 1000 Kilometres
Sunday 10 May, 2009: David Brabham endured a challenging race for the Spa 1000 kilometres today, his first outing with Peugeot Sport ahead of the Le Mans 24 Hours next month. On-track contact caused the #9 Peugeot HDi FAP to undergo suspension repairs in the pits just over two hours into the race, dropping the car significantly down the order. Brabham battled back from 21st to 14th place before team mate Alexander Wurz brought the car home to finish 13th.
The British born Australian, who lives in Henley-on-Thames, made his return to the prestigious 1000 kilometre event at Spa Francorchamps, Belgium, for the first time in over 10 years. Brabham also marked his inaugural drive for Peugeot on 10 May, the day 50 years ago his father, Sir Jack, took his first Formula One World Championship race victory in Monaco en route to his maiden F1 World Championship title.
Alexander Wurz delivered a positive start to the weekend for the #9 Team Peugeot Total car by completing an all-Peugeot front row alongside the #7 908 HDi FAP in qualifying on Saturday.
Spaniard Marc Gene made a good start for the race on Sunday to hold second behind Nicolas Minassian in the sister Peugeot through two safety car periods in the first 30 minutes. Remaining in position throughout a solid stint, Gene pit and Brabham took the wheel as the race edged into its third hour.
The double Le Mans GT1 class winner joined the fray in fifth place on lap 50, 41 seconds behind the lead Peugeot. Barely a handful of laps into his stint, the 43 year-old returned to the pits to get his car checked following on-track contact with the #28 Courage. He rejoined the race, made for the pits again one lap later and the car was rolled into the garage.
Excellent work by the Peugeot Sport team ensured that the bent right rear wishbone was swiftly replaced to get Brabham back on track in just over 13 minutes under a safety car period, six laps down on the leading Peugeot in 21st place.
After spending most of the first hour of his stint in the pits and circulating under the safety car, Brabham was finally able to go green flag racing after more than 30 minutes under caution, to try and claw back some lost time.
Battling through traffic and the GT class contenders, Brabham marched through to 14th place and reduced the gap on the leaders to five laps. With yet another safety car period, Brabham took the opportunity to pit just before the four hour mark to pass the reins to his Austrian team mate.
Shortly into his stint, Wurz returned to the pits to serve a four minute penalty following Brabham's earlier incident and contact with car #28. The #9 Peugeot rejoined the race seven laps down on the leader in 15th place and Wurz worked his way up to 13th by the time the chequered flag fell.
"It was a disappointing result for us today but we can still walk away with a lot of vital information to take forward to Le Mans next month," said Brabs. "The number seven Peugeot had a faultless race and it's great that Peugeot took victory at Spa.
"I had a pretty frustrating race. I was overtaking another prototype and I thought I had enough room but he moved over, I tried to move to avoid him, but he tagged my right rear bending the wishbone. We lost a massive amount of time in the pits but the team did a fantastic job to get me back out there. When we finally got racing again after the safety car I managed to pick up a few places but the penalty we received for that incident obviously dropped us even further down.
"Sometimes you learn more when you have a bad race and I've learnt a lot today and so has the team. We'll be putting this race behind us and only taking the positives forward for Le Mans, which is the main prize. It's still good to have my first race for Peugeot under my belt and I'm looking forward to next time out at Le Mans."
Brabham will be resuming his usual race duties with the Patron Highcroft Racing team aboard the Acura ARX-02a next weekend as the American Le Mans Series heads for Salt Lake City, Utah, for round four. Currently leading the LMP1 driver standings with team mate Scott Sharp by 21 points, the Patron Highcroft Acura duo will be looking to extend their championship lead with win number two at the Miller Motorsports Park.