Despite limited preparation for his debut in the highly competitive Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, Matthew Brabham says he won’t be intimidated by anyone in tomorrow's opening race at Barbagallo.
The 23-year-old completed a steady first day aboard Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport’s #3 Holden, driving 32 laps in each of the 45 minute sessions.
Having never driven a Supercar prior to today, the grandson of triple Formula 1 world champion Jack Brabham was 25th and 26th in the respective sessions, ending up 3.2s from the pace.
Although there is just one more practice tomorrow before qualifying and the race, the US-based Brabham says he feels comfortable with lining up in the category's star-studded field.
“I’m not intimidated by anyone at all,” said Brabham, whose racing career has included a stint in Formula E and a start in last year’s Indianapolis 500.
“There’s a couple of things that help that, with all the other racing I’ve done in the world. I’ve driven against Formula 1 world champions in Formula E.
“I know a few of the guys try and intimidate the rookies, I saw that going on in practice, but it doesn’t bother me. I just kind of laugh at it.
“I grew up racing most of these guys in karts, we’ve known each other since we were seven years old. It’s cool to see them on track, and we have a lot of respect for each other.
“Obviously some of the older, more experienced guys want to frighten the rookies and show them what it’s all about – but I don’t mind that, that’s all part of it.
“It’s great sport, and if I was in the same position I’d be doing the same thing.”
Brabham was over 0.5s slower in the second session than he’d been earlier in the day and says that the final result does not truly reflect his position.
“I’m happy with my progress, the team seems happy as well,” he said.
“We were right there in the first session, and in the second session we just ran around on old tyres and got a bit of experience with how the tyres start to degrade late in the race.
“I was right there when everyone was on old tyres, and then when everyone bolted new ones on after that caution they all went a lot quicker.
“I don’t think the last session really reflects where we sit. I improved a lot in the second session but it didn’t reflect (on the time sheet).”
Brabham also gave his impressions of the Supercar, comparing it to the Stadium Super Truck that he’s also racing this weekend.
“It’s a fun car to drive,” he said.
“It’s very forgiving in the sense that a lot of things I’ve driven in the past haven’t been forgiving, especially the IndyCar.
“With that you make one little mistake and it’s all over, with this you have a lot more time and it’s a lot slower with the reactions of getting loose, or understeering, or under brakes.
“You have a bit more time to react, which I really liked with a car I’d never driven before.
“The power wasn’t overwhelming. I’ve driven cars with a lot more power than that, especially some of the historic IndyCars with 1,200 horsepower.
“The driving style, if anything, was similar to the Super Truck because you’ve got no mid-corner grip and no downforce, so you just brake into the corner, stop mid-corner, and drive off.
“With an IndyCar you’re still trying to go full throttle through the corner.
“I enjoyed it, it’s definitely a tough driving style to get used to because it’s quite unique compared to other cars around the world.
“I feel like I’m right there, I think I can compete with these guys.”