PIRTEK Team Murray rookie driver Matt Brabham laid a solid foundation for his Verizon IndyCar Series debut next month with an enormously productive test at Sebring International Raceway in Florida today.
Brabham will drive in the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 14 and then attempt to become just the third third-generation driver to qualify for the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 – the world’s biggest one-day sporting event.
The 22-year-old Florida born racer ran 134 trouble-free laps on the 1.67-mile (2.67km) road course under the watchful eye of his British-based engineer Andy Brown and an experienced crew from KVSH Racing.
Brabham drove Sebastien Bourdais’ regular Verizon IndyCar Series entry, re-branded in PIRTEK colors and carrying the number 61 – paying tribute to the year that his Grandfather, Sir Jack Brabham, started the rear-engine revolution at Indianapolis.
It was the first time Brabham has been in an IndyCar since completing two rookie tests for Andretti Autosport at Iowa and Sonoma at the end of 2015.
Brabham worked through a list of set-up programs as well as many possible race scenarios he may have to adapt to.
It was fitting that Matt’s first test with PIRTEK Team Murray was at Sebring, where he had his first North American race victory in USF2000 in 2012 and where his father Geoff and uncle David have both had sportscar success.
It was also the venue where Matt’s grandfather Sir Jack pushed his car over the line to win the 1959 Formula One World Championship – his first of three (1959, 60, 66).
Brabham will now spend the next few days debriefing with Brown and the team back in Indianapolis before a simulator test next week.
The team has drawn support from the US-arm of PIRTEK – the Australian founded hydraulic and industrial hose franchise.
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment through the American Sniper – Chris Kyle Memorial Edition Blu-Ray is backing the team and its CK Crew concept – which is PIRTEK Team Murray’s entry in the Tag Heuer Pit Stop Challenge made up of military veterans and first responders, conducted in association with the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation.
WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY…
MATT BRABHAM – DRIVER – #61 PIRTEK TEAM MURRAY CHEVROLET.
“What an awesome day,” said Brabham.
“To arrive at the track at 7am this morning and see the car in PIRTEK Team Murray branding really brought home that this whole program is real.
“I really enjoyed everything about the day and learnt so much from Andy Brown, Mitch Davis and all the KVSH Racing crew who really threw everything into the day.
“These cars are obviously a lot more physical to drive than open wheels cars I have been used to in the past and it was a typical hot Florida day, but apart from being a little stiff in the neck, which is to be expected, I feel great.
“Jim Leo has been working me hard every day at PitFit Training in Indy and that work is obviously paying off.
“I have always liked Sebring and obviously my family has some great history here, so to come through the day without any issues and 134 laps under my belt ticks a big box for us.
“I wish I was doing it every day, but I have to wait a couple of weeks before I am back in the car and I am already counting down the days.”
ANDY BROWN – ENGINEER – #61 PIRTEK TEAM MURRAY CHEVROLET:
“It’s been a great day. Obviously this is the first time I have worked with Matt,” said Brown.
“You would not have believed he has driven these cars as little as he has.
“His feedback has been detailed and very clear and precise, which is only going to serve us well and place us in good stead as we move forward into the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and the 500.
“He has hardly put a foot wrong all day and we have made some really good progress, so I am looking forward to the next couple of events.
“Inexperience can catch you out on days like today, but he seems to have an old head on young shoulders.
“I think he is one of those exceptional talents whose inexperience may not work against him – and may actually help him because he has that youthful enthusiasm.
“He just wants to get after it and go faster.
“We certainly have no trouble getting him in the car or keeping him in the car. He wants to be out there.
“Adding the Brabham name to my CV is very much a privilege and honor and then there is the 100th Indy 500 itself.
“The race has been a big part of my life since I went there for the first time and won it in 1992.
“I have been back virtually every year since and to be there this year with a Brabham really is the icing on the cake.”
BRETT “CRUSHER” MURRAY – TEAM OWNER, PIRTEK TEAM MURRAY
“Well, we could not have asked for more than that,” said Murray.
“Matt did an exceptionally professional job and the support from the KVSH Racing guys was first class.
”I was delighted with how quickly Matt and Andy Brown became a cohesive unit. It was like they have been working together for years.
“To get 134 laps of running, produce some good speed and come away without a scratch on the car really is close to a perfect result.
“It was great to have Matt’s dad Geoff looking on from the pit lane and I am sure Sir Jack (Brabham) had a smile on his face somewhere.”
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