David Brabham Blog - Le Mans 24 Hour Test Analysis

It was great to see all the cars at the Le Mans test day last weekend and I am sure the drivers and teams were pretty pleased to finally get out on track and see how the cars were behaving. As a driver, I know how excited you get because the test day means the race is coming up soon, and you also get a chance to test on the track you're going to be racing on, instead of testing elsewhere.
Casting my mind forward 12 months, I get a similar buzz of excitement as Brabham Racing strives to be on the 56 car entry list for Le Mans 2016. We will be part of that all-important test, which will set us up nicely for Brabham Racing's first Le Mans 24 Hours race! Also, our community of fans, drivers and engineers will contribute to the success of that entire race.

When a driver goes out for the first few laps of that test, you get a pretty good idea of what you've got underneath you and whether you have a chance of victory. I have been there with different cars and teams over the 18 times I have raced Le Mans and I knew straightaway which car was fast and which one wasn't. It is so important to find a good balance in the car that gives you confidence, because you need a ton of it to get the best from yourself and also the car at that track. With such long straights the car has to be quick enough to be one of the fastest in your category, but stable under braking and with enough downforce to get through the Porsche Curves with some serious speed.

From the outside it's really difficult to gauge where teams are in terms of who is quick and who is not as they all do a bit of sandbagging during the test day. The big teams who have been testing a lot, like the manufacturers, will already know the kind of balance they have in the car before they get there, so a lot attention will be with the tyres, how they work on the car and how long they will last. The pit stops in WEC are slow, nothing like F1, so the tyres have to be quite durable. Tyres are the most important element of any race car and if they are outside the range it can make driving very difficult and if it is cold, watch out. The teams will want to make sure they have the right compounds for each part of the day and night.

There will also be drivers there for the first time and they have to do a minimum amount of time in the car, usually around 10 flying laps, to be able to qualify for the race. Because of the way the day goes, the experienced drivers don't get a lot of time in the car because of having to give the rookies more track time. This is where testing before you get to Le Mans is so important, you don't want to be finding a balance while drivers are learning the track. I know, I have been in many of those situations and it is important that your teammates know the track and they feel confident in the car. If not, then you could have a slow race!

Seeing the performance of the cars last week, I wasn't surprised to see the Porsches leading the way. Their performances at Silverstone and Spa gave the game away that they were going to be quick at Le Mans. Audi was very strong too and I can see a massive battle going on between them for victory and I can't wait to witness it. Toyota were slower than I thought they might be, but I have to keep reminding myself that the test day is just a test day and teams won't show all they have just yet. The much talked about Nissans didn't really get up to speed and I would be worried if I was one of the drivers, as the gap to the leading P1 cars was massive, so I only hope they have a lot more to bring for the race. The car reminds me of the Panoz I drove between 1997 and 2002 and that car was never going to win Le Mans, but I am sure Nissan will get it right, but it could take three years to achieve it.

Looking at the P2 cars, which I have a vested interest in; it was interesting to see the performances of the teams and the cars. I don't want to be to drawn into the numbers because I am sure the quick cars ran on full fuel tanks, as most teams won't want to show how fast they are. When the race is on, that is when we will see who is quick and who isn't. So we at Brabham will be watching very closely as we will have to choose a car soon to race in 2016 and we have to have the best package available.

I will be at Le Mans from Wednesday to Saturday and I can't wait to get there. I have quite a few meetings scheduled to continue the march towards the return of the Brabham Racing team to the international stage, a journey through which all of our community members have contributed and supported us every step of the way. Just think how differently it will be for Brabham in a year's timeā€¦!

David Brabham

To find out David and the Project Brabham community are returning Brabham Racing to the worldstage click here