With the new Continental GT3 clocking up its second win of the year just yesterday at Paul Ricard, the team M-Sport Bentley team had its hands full. Who to drive the GT3 at FoS then? David Brabham to the rescue.
It was great for the FoS crowd to see not just the 600bhp twin turbo V8-powered machine show its winning pace – it seems like only yesterday it had its debut at FoS, this time last year. But great also to have David behind the wheel on a day already poignant after an engine-led minute’s tribute to his late dad Sir Jack at FoS earlier in the day.
So it was a job he was happy to accept, ‘even though they told me it was a demo run and I wasn’t to spin the wheels. But I did a bit anyway…’
How did David find the racer? A proper steed for a Bentley Boy and worthy follow-up to the LMP Speed Eight with which David came second at Le Mans in 2003, part of Bentley’s famous one-two victory that year?
‘It looks a big and heavy car but to drive it’s not like that at all. It feels really light and nimble. It just doesn’t feel like a heavy car but you still know it’s a Bentley when you are behind the wheel. There is still a connection with the Continental road cars.
‘The power is good, with plenty of good strong torque, and driveability is excellent – the gearchange is the best of any GT car I have ever driven. I can’t believe how good it is and I am not just saying that. It’s so sweet; the timing of the downchanges is so good there’s no kick at all.’
Technical note: the GT3 uses an Xtrac six-speed sequential transaxle gearbox, with racing clutch and steering wheel mounted paddle operated pneumatic gear shift.
David continued: ‘You drive this car here and you think, actually I would quite like to have a go with it on a racetrack just to see what it is really like – it’s a bit difficult to tell at Goodwood. It must be good because the Blancpain series is very tough.’
Nothing like the Speed Eight Le Mans Prototype from 2003, though – but there was one thing in common. ‘I got out my old Speed Eight racesuit from 2003 specially for this occasion.’
What else is going on in the life of the Banbury-based racer? He is doing endurance races in the US this year – he has already competed at Daytona and Sebring – and at the British Grand Prix will be driving his father’s 1960 F1 car, highlight of a special Brabham tribute at Silverstone.
But the big news is that a seven-year legal wrangle to take back control of the Brabham name is over.
‘I said to dad in 2005, we have the Brabham name, with all the history and heritage, but we do nothing with it. We could turn it into a proper brand. Then we discovered that someone in Germany had registered the name and have had this long and expensive legal battle to get it back.’
And what exactly will brand Brabham be doing? ‘For that you’ll have to wait and see. All will be revealed by the end of the year. But true to Brabham history it will be inspirational and pioneering.’