Australian sportscar star David Brabham will team up with fellow ex-Grand Prix driver Jan Magnussen for the Panoz team's assault on the 2000 Le Mans Series. Brabham's team was forced into the search for a new co-driver for the Australian...
Australian sportscar star David Brabham will team up with fellow ex-Grand Prix driver Jan Magnussen for the Panoz team's assault on the 2000 Le Mans Series.
Brabham's team was forced into the search for a new co-driver for the Australian after Frenchman Eric Bernard left for the rival Cadillac marque for 2000.
A long-time associate of the French DAMS team, Bernard returns to his old team which is running Cadillac's return to sportscar racing this year.
For Brabham and Panoz, they needed to look no further for a suitable replacement that within their own ranks.
Magnussen debuted for Panoz last year as team-mate for Johnny O'Connell. The former Stewart Grand Prix driver and McLaren protege will now transfer across to the #1 Panoz machine with Brabham.
"Jan did a great job for the team last year and it was really important for me to find a good replacement," Brabham said.
"I had worked with Eric very closely for the past three years but Jan and I have very similar driving styles so I think we will be well suited.
"We are both very fast and we are going to need to be because the level of competition in the Le Mans Series has risen significantly."
The new pairing, both ex-British Formula 3 champions will debut at the opening round of the Le Mans Series at the 12-Hours of Sebring on March 18.
"The 12-hours of Sebring feels more like 48 hours at Le Mans because it is probably the bumpiest circuit in the world," Brabham said.
"You really need a good set-up that soaks the bumps up. The track really takes a toll on gearboxes, differentials and drivers as well. Jan recently tested for a couple of days in the new car at Sebring and the circuit really knocked him about.
"If you can do well at Sebring, you are in good shape for Le Mans."
While Brabham would have loved to have also tested at Sebring, the early arrival of a new member of the Brabham family kept him at home in the U.K.
Brabham's wife Lisa, presented David with a baby boy, Finn, born 11 weeks early on January 31.
"Both Lisa and Finn are doing well and considering he was so early, he is not a bad size and is putting on weight well," Brabham said.
"I won't get back into the car now until the week before Sebring, but it won¹t take me long to get back into the grove.
"The team has done a great job on the new car and despite tighter engine air restrictor regulations this year, the new Panoz is still faster."
Brabham and Magnussen will face fierce opposition at Sebring with two-car factory efforts from BMW, Audi and Cadillac and a host of top privateers armed with the latest customer chassis from Lola and Reynard.
Adelaide will host the final round of the year 2000 Le Mans Series, a new unique championship which captures the mystique, the spectacle, the speed and the passion of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Some of the world¹s finest drivers aboard an extensive array of the most spectacular and fastest racing cars in the world will only be the icing on the cake of this entertainment spectacular. Food, wine, fashion and a concert to usher in the new year complete "Adelaide¹s Race of a Thousand Years".