ALMS » 28 March 2011
Brabham encouraged after Abu Dhabi fightback
David Brabham admits that he was impressed by the potential of the Sumo Power Nissan GT-R after he and co-driver Jamie Campbell-Walter battled their way to GT1 World Championship points at Yas Marina.
While the Sumo Power GT team endured the frustration of having a potential GT1 World Championship victory dashed from its grasp in Abu Dhabi, new recruit David Brabham enjoyed his first competitive taste of the Nissan GT-R and believes there is more to come from the #21 entry in future races.
The Australian's Brazilian team-mates, Enrique Bernoldi and Ricardo Zonta, were dominating the opening stages of the race two at Yas Marina until a Ford GT crashed into the latter as he was driving down the pit-lane following the mid-race tyre and driver swap.
Such was the impact, it punctured the Nissan's front-right tyre and Zonta had to pit after his first lap, and then again a few laps later when officials called him in for a seat-belt check. As it turned out, however, the car's suspension had been damaged in the incident and, rather than make matters worse, the team decided to call it a day.
Brabham and co-driver Jamie Campbell-Walter also suffered a less than fortunate weekend, despite setting times in qualifying and the two races that were on – or even ahead of - the pace of the other Nissans running at the front of the field.
A number of issues meant that the highly experienced Anglo-Australian combination was to come away from the event scoring eighth and ninth-place finishes in race one and race two respectively although Brabham, as ever, was able to find encouragement even from that.
Brabham set the second-fastest time in first qualifying, but Campbell-Walter was then held up on his fastest lap in the second session, ruling the #21 car out of the pole position shoot-out by a single place. However, things got worse, as a pit-lane infringement during Saturday morning's warm-up dropped the pair back to P14 on the grid for the Qualifying Race.
Having avoided a lap one melee, the #21 Nissan was promoted to seventh on the road, before Campbell-Walter moved up another couple of places ahead of his compulsory pit-stop. Unfortunately, the Scot's hard work was undone at the tyre and driver change, when a delay in swapping the wheels saw Brabham rejoin in eleventh place. Although he did what he could to make up the deficit, passing three cars during his second-half stint, that left the car in a disappointing eighth position at the chequered flag.
Due to the high ambient temperatures in the UAE, the event's main Championship Race took place in the evening and, with grid positions decided by the finishing positions of the Qualifying Race, Brabham had cars all around him and took to the side of the track in order to avoid any contact.
While Bernoldi, in the sister car, blasted between the front row starters to claim the lead, track officials ruled that Brabham had run a little too wide and slapped him with a drive-thru' penalty that dropped the #21 car to 17th.
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