Despite spending time in Formula One, taking numerous victories at Le Mans and becoming one of the leading drivers in the American Le Mans Series, David Brabham has conceded that his time spent racing in the British Touring Car Championship came closest to matching his stellar 2008 ALMS season, providing 'some of the best racing he ever experienced'.
Having endured a difficult year in F1 with the Simtek team in 1994 – a season overshadowed by the death of team-mate Roland Ratzenberger on that dark weekend at Imola – the Australian was given the chance to move into the BTCC in 1995 after being signed up to partner Johnny Cecotto as part of the BMW works outfit.
Up against the likes of John Cleland, Alain Menu, Gabriele Tarquini and Rickard Rydell, Brabham's year in the BTCC didn't bring the success he had hoped for, as BMW endured a difficult year. His time in the BTCC provided a launch pad into sportscars from 1996 onwards, beginning a hugely successful period in his career that continues to the present day. Brabham's father, Sir Jack, however enjoyed four touring car victories in the 1960s
Making the most of a break in his American Le Mans Series schedule, Brabham took the chance to return to the BTCC paddock at Thruxton as part of his involvement in the MSA's British Race Elite Programme – keeping an eye on a number of drivers including VX Racing ace Andrew Jordan.
Reflecting on his time in the series, Brabham admitted it had been one of the more enjoyable periods of his career, despite the struggle for results.
"I think that BTCC racing has always produced good, close racing, sometimes too close," he told Crash.net
. "There was obviously more manufacturers involved in 1995. The BMW I was driving wasn't competitive that year; both myself and Johnny Cecotto struggled. It would have been okay if it was just me, as I had just come from Formula One, but Cecotto was a seasoned champion in those cars.
"In terms of competition it was great racing. I prefer driving prototypes with more power and grip but in terms of racing, it was some of the best I ever experienced. Obviously we are going through a difficult time right now, especially for the manufacturers, but the BTCC is still delivering great racing.
"It was good to see such a crowd at Thruxton and that it's still got that crowd appeal, which can only be good for British motorsport."