Le Mans » 17 January 2012
Q&A - David Brabham, JRM Group
David Brabham discusses his return to prototype competition having inked a deal to join JRM for the 2012 World Endurance Championship season
After last season with the Nissan, you've done the deal with JRM to drive the HPD in 2012. How excited are you about the year ahead?
Very excited, obviously. It's kind of amazing when I think about because the HPD car is something I have involved in since 2007 with Highcroft, the car has my DNA in it and I have been very much part of it. Of course I was at Highcroft for Sebring last year and then they said that they didn't have the money to continue and all of a sudden it was a case of 'Gee, I have to go and find a job!'
I ended up driving for Sumo Power in GT1, which was a move away from what I had become used to with a new team and a new series. I was wondering where it was heading and twelve months down the road, I've now been joined by the car that I know so well. It is amazing how life takes you so it was a lovely surprise to hear that they wanted to move to P1 and do it with the car that I know.
Was it a coincidence that they have chosen the HPD or do you think your experience played a role in the decision?
I'm pretty sure that I had an influence, whether that is consciously or unconsciously. Obviously I know the guys at Wirth Research and HPD very well and I know what they are capable of, so there is a connection there. When that all came about, it was a case of 'Right, let's get on with it – who are my team-mates?'
Peter Dumbreck is someone I have known for long time although I have never worked with him directly. I've seen him work with Sumo Power and JRM and am looking forward to working with him, and then there is Mr Chandhok who comes straight from F1 and will give the programme a great profile. He is a good driver and will be a great asset to the team. I'm very much looking forward to working with him and with the three of us, and that car, I'm confident that we will be very strong once the team understands what it needs to do in this type of racing.
Just how strong can you be given the potential we saw from the car at Sebring last year where it challenged the diesel cars?
Obviously part of the reason JRM chose the car is that they know it is a fast car. Sebring was an amazing event for the car because it was very late and we only got there on the week of the race. We hit the track for an installation lap and I did a five or six lap run and we were bang on the pace. The car felt good and we hit a sweet spot with the track as conditions change quickly at Sebring. As the weekend went on, we were fast although we couldn't be sure how fast we were until the race.
Out of the box, it was quick and there was only one small issue with the car in practice. That was why we finished second as we had a good, consistent run. In reality, the diesels were a second and half quicker than us to be honest, which is to be expected with the rules and the fact we had a new car and didn't really understand the tyre. The car had more potential and I'm expecting it to be fast this year.
How attractive is it that you aren't going for an American Le Mans Series title or a Le Mans Series title this year – but a full-blown FIA World Endurance Championship title?
When you put the tag 'FIA World Championship' it is a massive boost to a series and what you are trying to achieve. There is nothing against the other series as they are all great, but you have to just go out and win wherever you are. The stakes are higher this year and there are some great cars in the series so I have no doubt it will be a cracking year.
Is the one downside the fact that Petit Le Mans isn't on the schedule? Are you disappointed by that?
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