David Brabham has secured a place in the annals of Le Mans 24 Hours history with his first overall and LMP1 victory at La Sarthe – helping Peugeot to win with the 908 HDi at the third time of asking.
Having won twice in GT1 with Aston Martin, Brabham finally achieved his dream of taking overall laurels at Le Mans, sealing a hat trick of different class wins in the process and granting him membership to a select club of drivers that can claim the same.
The 43 year-old's momentous victory has echoes of history repeating itself some 16 years after older brother Geoff took Peugeot to victory lane in 1993. Their father, Sir Jack, won the French Grand Prix in a car bearing his own name on the Bugatti circuit back in 1968.
Brabham, who currently leads the ALMS LMP1 championship battle, once again teamed with Marc Gene and Alex Wurz. The trio drove faultlessly, turning their fifth place on the grid in to the race lead after just over five hours and 50 minutes.
Aside from during pitstops, the car remained out front to the finish to head a 1-2 for the Peugeot team.
“I think it might take a few days for this to sink in,” Brabham reflected. “It's all quite unbelievable. What can I say? I am delighted that we could take the win for the team who have done a magnificent job. We had a faultless race, as I've had for the past two years with Aston Martin Racing. There's been a lot of pressure on Peugeot and they've stepped up to the plate and delivered, it's fantastic.
“Our strategy was really to take care of the car; the tyres, the brakes — particularly the front brakes which were wearing a bit more than we would have liked. We just agreed to adjust our driving styles and keep within a consistent lap time target. We were running at a restricted pace but other cars were having problems, so it worked out ok. We didn't make one mistake and that's what it takes to win this race.
“The amount of testing and analyses that Peugeot has done in the last six months is astounding. I don't think that I have ever been involved in a programme so big. But that's what it takes to beat Audi and Peugeot have done just that, which is really something.
“It was a joy to drive with Marc and Alex. They are both very fast and very consistent drivers. We all got on very well and kept our focus together. It's been a privilege driving with them.
“This victory obviously means a lot to me. I was standing on pit lane with around thirty minutes to go when my good friend Justin Bell from Speed TV
put his cans on my head. I caught the tail end of a conversation between Speed
and my brother Geoff in Australia. That was pretty cool — definitely a personal highlight. I've just looked at my phone and I've got 63 texts already. I have received an enormous amount of support from my family, friends and work colleagues, and that means such a lot to me.
“I would sincerely like to thank Peugeot Sport for inviting me to be a part of this fantastic programme and giving me the chance to win. And if it wasn't for the backing of Patrón Highcroft Racing, Acura and HPD, I wouldn't even be here. Thanks, guys.”
Victory at La Sarthe capped a fine week for Brabham, who was voted as the second quickest sportscar driver in the world in a special poll conducted by Speed TV
- with long term friend and rival Allan McNish being the only man deemed quicker than the British-born Australian.