Sam Brabham outlined his sportscar potential with an impressive Porsche Carrera Cup GB debut with Redline Racing at Silverstone this weekend. Returning to racing after a four-year hiatus, the third generation driver made huge progress to take a brace of top six Pro-Am finishes and cap his inaugural outing with a race two result on the cusp of the top ten.
The King’s Sutton domiciled 24-year-old faced an immense learning curve as he took the long-awaited step up to sportscars on home ground. The former British Formula Ford Scholarship Vice Champion had to completely change his driving style to get to terms with the 485hp Porsche Carrera 911 GT3 Cup car whilst joining the penultimate round of the fiercely competitive one-make series.
Taking the wheel of his Redline Racing machine for the first time on Wednesday, Brabham had just one further test outing on Friday ahead of official qualifying. A solid session saw Sam improve with every lap of the 1.64-mile National circuit to rank seventh in Pro-Am, with just 1.1 seconds covering 17 of the 23-car field.
Lining up on the ninth row of the grid for the first 28-lap race of the weekend on Sunday morning, Brabham got his racing return underway with a solid start despite avoiding a stalled car off the line. A sensibly conservative opening stint allowed the Carrera Cup rookie to settle in and get the measure of the car, set-up and tyre performance for the first time in race conditions, before starting to pick his way through from 21st position.
Past Am drivers Shamus Jennings on lap nine and David Shaw two laps later, Sam set his sights on the next Am entry of Richard Hawken some six seconds up the track. Consistently building his pace to run comparable lap times on the cusp of the top ten, Brabham obliterated the deficit in just five laps. A commanding move at Copse on lap 24 sealed an encouraging 16th overall and sixth in Pro-Am.
Despite a disappointing start for race two, Sam quickly made up for lost time to work his way back up from 19th overall. Immediately on the pace, he picked his way past Jennings and David Fairbrother in quick succession, before making light work of Iain Dockerill’s 4.3 second advantage and take 16th spot on lap 12.
Up to 15th overall and sixth in class by the halfway marker, the invaluable experience gained with every lap really began to bear fruit. Maintaining consistently competitive lap times, Brabham demolished another 4.6 second gap to Peter Mangion and claim 14th just four laps later, clearing all Am class drivers in the process.
Pushing on in a bid to catch the tail-end of his fellow Pro-Am contenders, Sam posted his personal best time just two tenths shy of the quickest Pro-Am car, picking up one further position to take the chequered flag an impressive 13th overall.
“This weekend has been an unbelievable learning curve and invaluable experience all in one, but I’m delighted with the progress made” said Sam. “Race one was all about building experience and knowledge, getting the measure of the car in race conditions. That gave me the confidence to push and pass people in race two and, although a disappointing start put me on the back foot, to be catching the back of the experienced Pro-Am pack is a huge boost.
“I’ve come into what is a massively competitive series, racing against a strong grid of drivers who’ve been at it all season. The Porsche Carrera 911 GT3 Cup car is an awesome machine but it’s a demanding and unique car very different to anything I’ve driven before. To walk away from my series debut within reach of a top ten finish shows what I’ve achieved in such a short space of time and I can only hope this leads to great things next year. Huge thanks to everyone at Redline Racing and my sponsors,
Source. Brabham/Photo. Porsche