Third-generation Australian driver Matt Brabham has taken the next step in his professional career by signing a contract with Preston Hire Racing for this year’s PIRTEK Enduro Cup in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship.
The deal, which has been brokered by the team’s owner Charlie Schwerkolt, will see Brabham co-drive with Lee Holdsworth in the Sandown 500, Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 and Gold Coast 600 as well as participating in an extensive testing and ride-day program.
Brabham will also continue to compete in the Stadium Super Truck Series in both the US and Australia.
Brabham competed in karts and Formula Ford in Australia from the age of seven before heading to the US where he won both the F2000 and the Pro Mazda Series in record-breaking fashion.
Brabham finished 16th in his Indycar debut on the Indianapolis road course in 2016 and two weeks later competed in the 100th running on the Indianapolis 500 for PIRTEK Team Murray where he finished 22nd in front of more than 400,000 fans.
Last year he competed full-time in the Stadium Super Trucks Championship and made his Supercars debut for Lucas Dumbrell Motorsports in a one-off appearance at Barbagallo Raceway in Perth.
Braham made his Mt Panorama debut at the Bathurst 12-hour race last week and teamed with veteran Tony Longhurst and fellow youngster Aaron Seton to win Class C in The Boat Works BMW GT4.
Matt, 23, is the son of 1993 Le Mans 24-hour winner, 1997 Bathurst 1000 winner and 10-time Indy 500 starter Geoff Brabham and the grandson of three-time world Formula One champion, Sir Jack Brabham.
Brabham, 23, will be a part of Preston Hire Racing this week and participate in the Supercars test day at Sydney Motorsport Park on Friday.
Preston Hire Racing has done a lot of off-season development and looks to 2018 with some confidence after finishing with their best result of fourth at the final round of the 2017 season in Newcastle.
The result was unfortunately overshadowed by one of the most dramatic finishes ever to a Supercars championship.
Today’s announcement comes with the full endorsement of the team’s major sponsor Preston Hire and the Preston Hire Group’s Managing Director and President, Markus Preston.
Brabham will remain in Australia for a couple of more weeks and will drive his Stadium Super Truck at the Adelaide 500 on March 1-4.
WHAT THEY HAVE TO SAY…
CHARLIE SCHWERKOLT – TEAM OWNER
“There is no greater name in Australian motorsport than Brabham and we are delighted that Matt has accepted our invitation to become a part of the Preston Hire Racing operation,” said Schwerkolt.
“Matt is a terrific young driver and young man and we believe he will be a valuable asset for our race team as we all progress to the next level.
“Matt is a racer. It goes without saying that it is in his blood and we believe that he will perfectly complement our full-time driver Lee Holdsworth.
“We are proud of the fact that we are giving a young Australian a shot and we also look forward to following his progress in the Stadium Super Trucks through the year.”
MATT BRABHAM – DRIVER
“I have been fortunate to have some terrific days in my motorsport career and this is certainly right up there,” said Brabham.
“Supercars is obviously one of the world’s leading categories and I am tremendously grateful for the opportunity that Charlie (Schwerkolt) and Markus (Preston) have provided me.
“The one-off ride last year (in Perth) gave me a small taste of what Supercars is about and I can’t wait to get out there.
“I had my first experience at Mt Panorama last weekend in the 12-hour and to know that the next time I will be heading back there will be in a Supercar is pretty cool.
“Lee (Holdsworth) is a first-class operator and has always been good to me and I am sure we will complement each other.
“The current landscape means that it is difficult to secure a solid drive without taking a cheque with you.
“So to be provided an opportunity like this and to be paid as a professional driver is a position that I obviously appreciate and will be protecting by doing the best job I can possibly do in and out of the car.
“While the Indy 500 will be there each year, my focus now is doing the best possible job in Supercars for Charlie and the Preston Hire Racing team.
“Patience and persistence are two of the main attributes you need in this business and this deal is proof of that, but it is important to keep moving forward.”
MARKUS PRESTON – PRESTON HIRE GROUP MANAGING DIRECTOR AND PRESIDENT
“Matt is obviously a very talented young driver and he has proven that in a range of different machinery,” said Preston.
“He performed without fault on the biggest stage at the 100th Indy 500, is badass in the Stadium Super Truck and won his class on debut at the Bathurst 12-hour only last week.
“We believe his relaxed nature and faultless professionalism will be a valuable asset for our motorsport and corporate programs.
“This is another positive outcome in our short, but rewarding motorsport involvement.”
LEE HOLDSWORTH – DRIVER
“Preston Hire Racing made some real progress in the last part of last season and I think the addition of Matt (Brabham) to our team will complement our momentum,” said Holdsworth.
“Matt and I have a good relationship already and I am sure we will only continue to build on that.
“The Pirtek Enduo Cup has become a real focus for the teams later in the season and it is great that we have our team set at this time of the year and can build a real strategy to give ourselves the best possible chance of a strong result.
“I was there for the Indy 500 in 2016 and enjoyed every minute of it and spending some time with Matt on the ground.
“Now I will get to show him around a Supercar at three of our biggest events of the year.”