Gianmaria Bruni Is Set To Make His Porsche Debut This Weekend At Watkins Glen
The ex-Ferrari ace is looking forward to his Porsche 911 RSR debut in the IMSA 6-hours of Watkins Glen
During the offseason, Porsche secured a contract with Gimmi Bruni, formerly Ferrari's top factory GT wheel man. Because Ferrari had already had a contract in place with Bruni for 2017, an agreement was made between the two racing teams that Bruni could join the Porsche team so long as he did not participate in racing with them until after June. Ferrari wanted to make sure that they wouldn't have to compete with their recently vacated driver until after Le Mans. They knew what kind of weapon he was, and did not want Porsche to have that advantage at their biggest race of the season. Furthermore, Bruni would only be allowed to compete for Porsche in the IMSA GT Le Mans class, not in the WEC's GTE Pro class. It was smart of Porsche to pick up Bruni, but it was perhaps smarter of Ferrari to limit where they would see him on the field of battle.
June is over this weekend, and Bruni will be allowed to compete in a Porsche again. The 6 hours of Watkins Glen is his first race with the team, even though he's been running testing exercises in the 911 RSR all season. In preparation for the event, Porsche asked their driver a few questions, and this is what he had to say about the upcoming challenge.
“It’s a big challenge for me to switch in the middle of the season to such a strongly supported series like the IMSA SportsCar Championship with a new car. There are many things I’ll have to get used to, but I’m very grateful for this chance and I’ll do everything to achieve successes with Porsche as soon as possible.”
Gianmaria, up until now you’ve only tested the new 911 RSR. How much are you looking forward to your maiden race with Porsche?
“I’m very excited of course. Although I’ve never competed on the very demanding Watkins Glen racetrack, I’m very pleased that we finally get to race with Porsche.”
You could test the 911 RSR at Road America. What was the main focus of this?
“For me, it was important to gather as much information as possible and to see how the car responds under different conditions – for example with worn and fresh tires, in low and high track temperatures. The insights I gained during this short time were very informative.”
What was your first impression of the new 911 RSR?
“My first encounter with the 911 RSR was very impressive. Even before you climb into the cockpit, you can see just how much potential the car has. However, the handling is completely different to the cars I’ve driven in the past. In this respect, it will take me a while to familiarize myself with the 911 RSR so that I’m really fast. But for a racing driver, there’s no better challenge.”
Have you been able to settle in to the Porsche GT Team?
“The reception was fantastic. When I got into the plane in the USA I didn’t really know what was coming, but my expectations were exceeded. I’ve received a very warm welcome from everyone and I immediately felt at home. Although I’ve only experienced the team during the short tests at Road America, I was very impressed by the professional way the guys worked there. And my new teammate Laurens and I clicked immediately. So this makes me all the more excited for the first race at Watkins Glen and for the rest of the season.”
What are your goals?
“It’s been seven years since I contested a full season in the USA. The races there have their own rules, they’re difficult to gauge. The many safety car phases can turn everything upside down at any time. Until you’ve crossed the finish line, you can never know where you’ll end up. This is completely different to, say, the WEC, but it’s still a wonderful challenge. My goal for the rest of the season is to learn as much as possible about the new 911 RSR so that I can go for the championship title well prepared with Porsche in 2018, regardless of the race series. I’m already looking forward to this.”