TWENTY years after he stood on the podium as a winner of the Bathurst 1000, David Brabham is back at Mount Panorama to compete in a huge weekend of racing.
However, he will not be buckling in for his 10th tilt at the Great Race, but rather take on the Toyota 86 Racing Series’ Bathurst round.
“Where did all that time go? For me 20 years ago when Geoff and I won the Bathurst 1000, for the pair of us it was a very special moment,” Brabham said.
“I always watched Bathurst as a kid and even as a kid, I never ever dreamt I’d be taking the victory at Bathurst a little bit later on in my life.
“I always enjoy coming back here, it’s one of those special events. When they asked to come and do this race, it wasn’t too difficult to say yes.”
While Brabham last contested the Bathurst 1000 in 2011, he has filled out his long motor sport resume on tracks across the globe.
His successes include four class victories at the 12 Hours of Sebring, a 1991 win at the Spa 24 Hours and outright success at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2009.
He last raced at Mount Panorama in the 2015 Bathurst 12 Hour and while being hospitalised after hitting the wall in his Bentley at The Cutting, was keen for a return.
The #66 entry he steered to 25th in Friday morning’s Toyota 86 qualifying session – one which Cameron Hill topped with a 2:39.5968 lap – had special significance as well.
The livery gave a nod to his father, three time Formula One world champion, Sir Jack Brabham.
“It in my way, it’s a celebration of one of Australia’s greatest engineering feats in a sense. A bunch of Australians in England, using an Australian built engine, taking on the world and for two years dominated grand prix racing and won championships,” he said.
“The 66, it’s the last year that my dad did it. He’s still the only one to win a championship in a car of his own construction and it will never happen again.
“It’s not just a celebration of Jack, it’s a celebration of Australian engineering.”
While Brabham will no doubt look to improve his times and run closer to the front of the field over the three races this weekend, he admitted it would take time to adjust.
Hie best qualifying lap was a 2:43.2148, an effort 3.6180 seconds down on Hill.
“I’ve never driven one of these before, I’ve got a vertical learning curve to all the others, that’s for sure,” he said.
“I haven’t raced for two years, so I feel pretty rusty as well. I’m not putting pressure on myself. There’s always pressure to perform because that’s what has driven me for years, but over the last two years I’ve not thought about driving, so my mind is completely somewhere else.
“To get back into that mindset, it's going to take a session or two to get my head into it.”
The first of three six-lap Toyota 86 races will be staged from 8.40am on Saturday. Bathurst’s Dylan Gulson will go from third on the grid.