Frenchman Sébastien Brisard has raced a 1978 Martini MK25 BMW F2, a single-seater built for the track, up a French hillside. And he did so with great success, having been crowned VHC (Historic Race Cars) champion last year and winning the two opening events this year. We interviewed him to talk about the championship and the astonishing car he’s racing.
SÉBASTIEN BRISARD RACES A 1978 F2 CAR UP A MOUNTAIN ROAD!
Sébastien, can you give us a brief introduction of yourself and your motorsport story?
Today I run a small construction company in France as my everyday job, but during the weekends my partner and I are going out to the hillsides with our camper and trailer to compete in the French Hillclimb Championship. I started racing in rally when I was 18, competing in an Autobianchi Abarth. Later on, I switched to an Alpine, but I really didn’t get along with this car. I sold it one year later. It was then that I bought an F3 to compete in the French National Championship circuit racing. Here I fell in love with single-seaters. There’s just nothing like racing a formula car. The response, agility, and ease of operation are incredible. This is why I decided to compete in historic hill climbing. I knew I had to get a single-seater and so I bought my Martini MK25 BMW.
The car you’re racing is incredible. Can you tell us more about it?
The car I’m driving now has an incredible history. It’s a 1978 Martini MK25 BMW with a 2.0-litre M12/7 engine. It was first driven on track by Marc Sourd in 1978 and by none other than Guy Fréquelin in the French Hillclimb Championship in 1979 and later by Marcel Tarres in the 1980s. I recovered the car in pieces, and it took me two years to fully rebuild it, but in 2018 it was finished, and I first competed with it. That year was a learning experience. In 2019 I started to win, but a crash caused me to lose two races, and I lost the championship. However, in 2020 I managed to win all four races and became champion in the historic category.
Why did you choose to compete in a single-seater in this championship?
To be honest, if you want to win it, the single-seater is the only way to go. This is simply because of its power-to-weight ratio. It’s 304bhp with only 460kgs. On slick tyres, that is a strong combination. The only thing you have to keep in mind is that this is an old F2 car. It’s all made out of aluminum, and there is very little safety equipment. You’re basically driving a can of soup with an engine behind you. In one of the last races, I finished 14th overall in between all of the modern machinery. People came to check out the car and started asking so many questions. The truth is the car has no assistance and a classic H-pattern gearbox, so I’m doing a lot of the driving with only one hand on the steering wheel.
You’ve been very successful already. How would you define your edge?
I think I’ve always been good at concentrating while driving. When I arrive at the finish, I honestly can’t tell you anything about how the track surroundings looked. I'm so focused and in the zone. The other part is also my reflexes from racing go-karts, rallies and single-seaters. For a long time, I’ve developed relatively good reflexes. Last, but definitely not least, I must say the car is perfect for this competition.
What was your first introduction to Motul, and what do the brand and products mean to you?
When I was a kid, I used to go see the “Course de Cotes” races with my brother, and the truth was all of the fast cars had a Motul sticker on the side. Since the start of my career, I’ve always used Motul because it’s what I associated with the successful cars I’d seen growing up. In the M12/7 engine in our F2 we run Motul 300V and I couldn’t think of a better product for it. The biggest improvement we felt was in the gearbox lubricant. Our gearbox is an old-style racing one that does not have a synchro mesh so a good lubricant is instrumental. We use the Gear Competition LS and it’s perfect. On top of that we recently changed brake fluid from RBF660 to RBF700 and noticed a significant improvement in pedal feel, especially in the high-speed stuff. It might seem funny, because it’s not a car product, but one of my favorite Motul products is Moto Wash. We use it for almost everything! [Laughs].
© Pictures: Nicolas Millet, Shoot Racing, Sylvie Phiphi Bouchereau