For $1.4 million, one can buy a lot of hypercar. Big power and tenacious grip are both offered by the McLaren Senna, the La Ferrari, and the Porsche 918, but they’re all fundamentally compromised. Big marques need to provide a sumptuous car, as these pricey gems are intended for some road use. Realistically, all of them will be used for cruising down the boulevard as much as they will be threshold braking. This compromise is not shared with Brabham’s BT62.
Built by one of racing’s most renowned dynasties, the Brabham BT62 does not have to shoulder the weight of being a household name. With only the petrolheads to please, their newest car is completely dedicated to track use. Made of copious amounts of carbon fiber coupled with a tubular metallic structure, it’s quite stiff, but also very light at 2,650 pounds (just a few hundred pounds more than a full-on IMSA DPi prototype).
Unlike many of the other track-oriented hypercars on the market today, the BT62 sports a normally-aspirated motor unaided by any electrical current. The throaty bellow of the 5.4-liter V8 suits the outrageous output: 700 horsepower and 492 lb-ft of torque (compared to the 600 horsepower of the IMSA DPi prototypes). Power is sent through a Holinger six-speed sequential, and the Brabam is stonkingly fast down Bathurst’s Conrod Straight.
However, to get around the sinuous Mt. Panorama in record time, major grip—both mechanical and aerodynamic—were needed. The pushrod suspension, Ohlins 4-way dampers, and Michelin slicks are complemented by the 2,645 pounds of downforce—it nearly matches its weight with the downforce it produces, so it could nearly drive on the ceiling.
A stellar driver was also necessary. Their hired gun was Luke Youlden, a V8 Supercar ace and stunt driver who is comfortable threading the needle with the walls so close. He drives with surgical precision, never puts a wheel wrong, and only gets a little sideways 1:58. This lap, which almost looks like a clip from a video game for its unflustered style, shattered the track record on the Mt. Panorama circuit—and could’ve easily been a second faster had the gearbox not acted up (0:34). Maybe two.
Yes, it’s unrestricted, meaning it boasts about 200 horsepower more than GT3 cars and its level of grip far exceeds that of the V8 Supercars that normally set the pace on the New South Wales circuit. Nevertheless, for a first time out, that’s a hell of an achievement.