Matthew Brabham has endured a tough, but competitive, “learning” weekend in the opening round of competition for the new S5000 open-wheel category at the Sandown International Raceway in Melbourne.
Qualifying Heat 1 – 4th
The dual American-Australian started from ninth after the qualifying selection process had played out (he set the sixth fastest time) and was quick to make an impression in the race. Brabham pounced off the line and made his way into fifth after the first corner.
He was then able to round up Alex Davison by the end of the first lap to take fourth place.
The Stadium SUPER Trucks championship leader had a look at James Golding and a podium finish but ultimately came across the line in fourth. Tim Macrow won the first of the qualifying heats.
Qualifying Heat 2 – DNF
The second of the qualifying heats saw Brabham start on the front row in second on Sunday morning. Brabham was the first car to arrive at turn one and leapt into the lead ahead of Golding.
Unfortunately, his hard work came undone at turn six on lap five, when he locked his front wheels and was sent sideways into the barrier. He was able to keep momentum and come out on the other side of the gravel trap, proceeding to pitlane before ultimately retiring from the race.
Golding, a regular Supercars driver, went on to win the race.
Feature Race – 5th
The third-generation racer started out of 10th for the Sunday afternoon feature race and was quick off the mark to right the wrongs of the morning.
He advanced into seventh on the opening lap before the first Safety Car period that was called for a stranded Ricky Capo.
The field was released with 20 laps remaining but was immediately neutralised again, with race leader Tim Macrow finding himself in the gravel trap, promoting Brabham to sixth.
As racing resumed with 18 laps remaining Alex Davison made heavy contact with the wall while dicing with Brabham. The field was bought under the control of the Safety Car for the third time, with the race being declared after 11 laps.
Brabham was classified fifth, with Golding taking the inaugural feature race win.
WHAT MATT HAD TO SAY…
“It’s (the S5000) quite a difficult car to drive and obviously a lot of people were having issues with it. It’s just so different to most open wheelers that I have ever driven. It’s got lots and lots of power, it’s quite heavy and there’s just no grip or aero or corner speed. It’s very much a stop and go style of driving. I felt like a lot of the guys that didn’t have a lot of seat time took awhile to get up to speed but I think by the end of it I was there,” said Brabham.
“I would have liked to have been higher up in qualifying, but at that point I was still figuring out the car and learning.
“I felt in the last two races we were just as fast as anyone.
“I think by the end of the weekend we had a lot of speed and definitely had the potential to drive up the front and fight for the win. It was just a few mistakes and circumstances that took us out of contention.
“I wish I could replay the weekend again, there were just a few little moments here and there that could change what happened.
“We definitely have the potential to win races and run up the front, it was quite a big ask. It seemed like everyone else was definitely struggling too until towards the end of the weekend.”
Brabham is now scheduled to return to Australia for the final round of the Stadium Super Trucks at the Gold Coast 600 on October 25-27.