David Brabham is a doing a bit of moonlighting at Le Mans, as the Australian former GT1 class winner switches from Acura's LMP1 project to race for Peugeot this weekend.
The Australian took time out on Thursday, prior to qualifying, to talk to AUTOSPORT about his experiences with the turbo-diesel coupe and why this is his second best chance to win Le Mans.Q. What's it like to drive the 908 HDi FAP compared to your normal ride in the ALMS?David Brabham:
It's fast! In the Acura when you lift off you can really feel good engine braking but in this thing there's nothing at all. You are traveling a lot quicker as well. The closed cockpit compared to the open top though is the biggest difference.
When you are in an open top you are out there in the elements and you are picking up information all the time, through the senses in your body. You feel like you are attached to it. But in a closed cockpit car you are detached from it. You have got to then find other messages to pick up what you need to do.
And that's made even harder because the diesel doesn't make that much noise. It's a but like driving a computer simulation with the sound turned down. You can even hear the gearbox - which you don't normally hear.Q. You've had to come to terms with the Peugeot quite quickly –how's that working out?DB:
Yeah, fine. I was out there last night in the wet. The car was good and when I was out there I was the quickest guy by a couple of seconds. It felt good. I feel like I have done enough mileage now in the car to feel like I can just climb in, bang, go. There's been quite a bit of testing. I've done three endurance tests and a race. It's quite a lot.Q. So do you feel ready or do you wish you had had six hours of practice last night?DB:
Absolutely. Totally ready.Q. Is this the best chance you have ever had to win Le Mans outright?DB:
No, this is my second-best chance. The other one was with Bentley. Back then the cars were quite a bit quicker than the normal Audi. We had a 50% chance of winning, we had the quickest car, but we had the most problems. So the other car just sailed it.Q. Allan McNish says if a non-Audi driver has to win then he hopes it's you. Do you feel the same about him?DB:
I like it when he wins. He is one of those drivers that young drivers will look up to. He is very professional. He doesn't muck about, he drives the wheels off it and he is a tough competitor. He is a great role model. And he is a good mate too...
Allan and I have been rivals since our Formula Vauxhall Lotus days in 1988! In F3, it was just he and I. We absolutely battled it out and our teams were in a courtroom battle and we would get out of the car, laugh, say, 'That was a tough race,' then go and have a drink!Q. Tonight's program is going to change a bit...DB:
We wanted to get certain tire information. We were going to some tire runs and things like that. And, OK we did that with the wets so yesterday was not a waste of time by any stretch of the imagination, because if it rains – and it could on Sunday – then we have got a lot of information about that. We just don't have any information about the dry – which we will get tonight.
What it means is that we have changed our program for qualifying. We have a racecar to sort out, so if we have enough to time we will throw on a set of tires and go.