Sam Brabham is set to graduate to the ranks of the senior Rotax Max karting category following confirmation of his signing with Dan Holland Racing for 2012. Sam will make his class debut this weekend at PF International, near Grantham in Lincolnshire, as part of a diverse racing programme that will see him hone his skills both at home and abroad.
The 17 year-old will compete in various UK club meetings, but his main focus will be on contesting select rounds of the Rotax Max Euro Challenge. In doing so, the son of triple Le Mans 24 Hours winner and double American Le Mans Series Champion, David Brabham, and grandson of triple Formula One World Champion, Sir Jack Brabham, will be the first to represent the Brabham family in European level karting in over 60 years of racing history.
Sam’s natural progression to Rotax Max follows his inaugural season competing at national level in Formula Kart Stars last year. Although he encountered an expected steep learning curve racing in Junior Max, Sam worked hard to continually improve his form and his best results included a top 10 finish in the series’ only European round at Genk.
Following his first race in the senior category at PF International this weekend, Sam will make a welcome return to the challenging Belgium circuit to tackle his first Rotax Max Euro Challenge round at Genk on March 31 and April 1.
The Henley-on-Thames karter heads to the opening season rounds after an impressive recent two-day test with DHR. Sam demonstrated his Rotax Max potential aboard the Alonso kart by matching the pace of his more experienced teammates to within just one tenth of a second at Whilton Mill and followed that form with a strong showing during his first ever outing at Shenington.
Still a relative newcomer to the sport, Sam will continue to concentrate on perfecting his race craft and building vital competitive experience. However, with the invaluable backing of Arbuthnot Latham and Liberty International UnderwritersTM (LIU), the aspiring star of the future is fully focused on rising to the Rotax Max challenge and delivering solid results to make his mark in the class.
Sam Brabham:“It feels really good to be joining Dan Holland Racing and moving up to Rotax Max for 2012. There’s already a great team dynamic and I feel at home, which is a good way to start the season. The team has a lot of really quick Rotax Max drivers which means that I have to push myself more to match their level and having that benchmark will be good for me.
“The pre-season tests have given me confidence and enabled me to put some solid building blocks in place ahead of PF International. I know how competitive Rotax Max is and how close the racing will be. In comparison to juniors it’s a lot quicker, everyone is older and there’s perhaps more respect between the drivers, which can only be good.
“Last year was quite a difficult learning year but that experience was invaluable. Being able to see where I could have done better on reflection is what has helped me to improve my racing and set me up for this year. Now I’m up for a new challenge. It’s going to be testing but I’m ready for it and think I can do well and raise my game.”
Dan Holland, DHR Team Principal:“I am very happy to have Sam joining DHR and our senior Rotax Max line-up, which I believe is the strongest we’ve ever had. Sam is already showing good potential but the calibre of the team will inevitably help him to develop into a top driver.
“I'm looking forward to working with him this season, particularly at the forthcoming Euro Max round at Genk at the end of March. First off, though, is this weekend at PF International. We’re expecting a full capacity grid of 36 entries for senior Rotax Max. Although it’s a club race all the top teams will be there with their drivers using it as a testing exercise for the big races ahead, so it will be a good starting point for Sam.”
David Brabham: “Last year for Sam was very much a learning year. He had a lot of ups and downs which were sometimes tough to take but essential to lay good foundations for the future. He learnt a lot that he can put into this year and over the winter he’s been able to think about the areas he needed to improve.
“We’ve changed teams, championships and classes so it’s an exciting year for him. Dan Holland Racing is a good team with some very fast, experienced drivers and it will be good for Sam to learn from them. He’s certainly ready for the challenge.
“It’s going to be a busy year for the Brabham family. While Sam is moving more to European based racing and select UK events, I’m competing in the FIA World Endurance Championship and Blancpain Endurance Series. Then my nephew, Matthew, is racing in the USA. His first event is Sebring and I’ll be there for the first round of the World Endurance Championship. All three of us have an exciting time ahead and are ready to work hard to achieve our goals.”