Brabham Will Compete 2021-22 FIA WEC Season, Race Le Mans in 2022
Brabham isn’t just back to racing; it’ll fight for the GTE class win at the 2022 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Brabham Automotive announced Wednesday that it plans to reestablish the Brabham name via the same avenue that it originally gained notoriety: motorsport. It will do so by partaking in the 2021-2022 FIA World Endurance Champions Season and the 2022 24 Hours of Le Mans.
For the uninitiated, Brabham was a Formula 1 team up until 1992. Its founder Sir Jack Brabham remains the only F1 driver to have won a drivers' championship in a car bearing his own name, and his sons Geoff and David have each won the 24 Hours of Le Mans, not to mention four IMSA GTP and two ALMS titles respectively.
The racing team-turned-automaker made a recent comeback with its track-oriented (but road-capable) BT62 supercar, which David Brabham has revealed to be the basis of its future race car.
"It would be wrong to say that it will be a whole new car," David told Autosport. "It will be a development of what we have now, a car we have built with endurance racing in mind, but what exactly it will be and what it will be called will come later."
Brabham confirmed to The Drive that it will keep to its historic "BT##" naming scheme, making the use of a name such as BT63 or BT64 likely. Whatever Brabham calls it, it will be built for competition in the FIA World Endurance Championship's GTE class, and not the top-level hypercar class as previously expected. Brabham will race in this class for the 2021-2022 season, somewhere along which will be the 2022 24 Hours of Le Mans. Eventually, Brabham's as-of-yet unnamed Le Mans entry will arrive as a road car—Brabham told The Drive that all its future race and track cars will be available for road car conversion, in keeping with a trend established by the BT62.
"Returning the Brabham name to Le Mans is something I have been working on for years, so it's fantastic to make this announcement today," continued David Brabham in a company release.
"Brabham Automotive only launched its first car, the BT62, in May 2018 so we have a long road to travel to earn the right to return to compete at Le Mans. That work starts now with a long-term racing commitment. We look forward to developing the BT62 and future products while building a world-class competitive race team around the leading engineering and manufacturing talent we have in the business."
Brabham's WEC campaign will be funded both by the company and its commercial partners, as well as outside sponsors. BT62 customers made part of the company's Driver Development Program will be groomed for possible recruitment to race factory cars in the GTE Pro or GTE Am classes as opportunities present. Brabham will also develop race cars for lower-level series, though the company didn't specify which classes—potentially GT3 or GT4.
"Brabham Automotive is a racing brand so since inception we've always had competitive motorsport in mind," Brabham's commercial director Dan Marks told The Drive.
"Our plan to go on the journey back to Le Mans is a statement of intent that Brabham Automotive is back and here to stay. In the BT62, we have already built an outstanding, unrestricted track car now with a road legal option. We will develop this car to make its mark in motor racing, along with new vehicles. Today is great news for us and will help put the Australian car industry back on the world stage."