Straight after the opening round of the American Le Mans Series at Sebring I set off for Abu Dhabi to contest the first round of the FIA GT1 World Championship with Sumo Power GT.
It was a great experience as I’d never been there before. I arrived with a lot to learn – a track, a car and a team to bond with. As the weekend progressed things started to gel a bit more but not to the level I think we would be happy with yet. Because there are so many new people in the team it takes a while for things to gel and make sure everything is running smoothly.
Certainly, I had a lot to get to grips with in terms of the championship. The rules and regulations are very different to what I’ve been used to racing the last 12 years in America.
We did the best we could and we had some very strong pace in the race and qualifying. We didn’t quite piece it together for the weekend but I think that’s just down to it being the first race with the team and new people coming together.
We were pleased with two top 10 race results and I felt pretty comfortable in the car – there were times where I was the quickest on the circuit – but we know we can improve.
I’ve been around a long time and worked with a lot of teams, so slotting into another new team is not a shock as I am used to it. With my experience I can sit back a bit and see how everything unfolds and help in areas that I perhaps couldn’t have done 10 years ago.
We’ve got a fantastic line-up of drivers in the Sumo Power GT team. Obviously I’m working with Jamie Campbell-Walter which is great. He’s a fantastic driver, he knows the car and he knows the team so he’s been terrific in helping me learn as much as possible, about what we should be doing and how we should be doing it. I’m very much looking forward to working with him and the team throughout the year.
This weekend is the next round at Zolder and things should be a lot better than they were at Abu Dhabi. I’m not worried about my pace, it’s just getting used to a different format of racing which takes a little time – you have to get through the first race.
The first time I saw the Zolder track was when we did the shake down test before Abu Dhabi. All drivers did eight laps just to familiarise ourselves with what was a fairly new car. It was a chance for the whole team to get together.
Some people had been to Zolder a few years ago and I’d never seen the place before, so it was handy to drive the car for a few laps to see which way the circuit went. That’s more, in terms of getting to know the circuit, than I had before Abu Dhabi.
I feel much calmer going into Zolder knowing all those things I didn’t know before I got to Abu Dhabi. I’m looking forward to it. I’m very focused and motivated on doing well this weekend because we need to catch up on the points.
The last time I raced a Nissan in Belgium I won the Spa 24 Hours, so I’ll be aiming for repeat victory success this weekend.
My son, Sam, will be making the trip over to Belgium with me. He’ll be heading to the Genk kart circuit on Thursday morning to learn the track as he’ll be racing there later in the year. As he’s not raced there before it’ll be a good opportunity to not only spend the weekend with me at Zolder and see the racing from the inside but to also have a blast around Genk and learn the track in preparation for the Formula Kart Stars round later this year.
We’ve got ourselves quite a few generations of Brabhams racing and now we have a third, with Geoff’s son Matthew, who’s been racing in Australia, and Sam who has done a couple of years in karts.
This year will be a much more serious effort with Sam as he embarks on his first season of Formula Kart Stars in the Junior Max class. God help us with more Brabhams coming through the sport!
– David Brabham by Emma Spearing – photos by David Brabham
06.04.2011 / MaP