With extensive testing experience with the car, new Aston Martin Racing recruit Daniel Serra says he feels ready for his FIA World Endurance Championship debut at Silverstone this weekend.
The 33-year-old Brazilian, whose prior racing experience mostly comes from Stock Car Brasil, has worked as a tire development driver with Dunlop, and so comes to his first WEC race having already tested the Aston Martin Vantage GTE.
He joins Jonny Adam and Darren Turner in the No. 97 GTE-Pro-entered car for the first three rounds of the season at Silverstone, Spa and Le Mans.
“After so much preparation we are finally here, and I’m really excited and looking forward to the weekend,” he told Sportscar365.
“I have one more challenge, which is to understand the track because it’s my first time at Silverstone. I’ve never been here before, so I’m really looking forward to it.”
Serra is confident he can use his knowledge gained from his experience with Dunlop to help the team, something he thinks will be important because of new rules this season that bring tighter restrictions on how many tires can be used over the weekend.
“It’s good to know how the tire works and what it can deliver,” he said. “Using my experience with the tires and their experience with the track and the car, I think we can achieve good results.
“Because I used to test for Dunlop, I know the car really well. So I just need to learn the track, and not the car and the track.”
This three-race program with AMR won’t be Serra’s first GTE program however, having competed in several IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship rounds in Scuderia Corsa’s Ferrari 488 GTE last season.
He says that this six-race entry, which included all four of the series’ endurance rounds, has prepared him for his WEC and Le Mans debut.
“For sure this is quite different to what I’m used to racing in Brazil, which is more sprint races with fighting all the time, but here you have more strategy with the pit stops and driver changes,” he explained.
“These are things that seem really simple but when you don’t do it often it’s quite different. It helped me but it’s a completely different car.
“It’s not the same tires and it’s not the same track, but it’s better than [not doing] it. It was an introduction to GT racing.”
In addition to the GTE effort, Serra is continuing racing stock cars in his native Brazil, and is currently leading the standings with a win earlier this month.
“We had the first race two weeks ago, and as soon as we finish at Silverstone I have to fly back because I have a race in Brazil next week,” he said.
“I’m doing the stock cars, and these three races. The flights are quite long but I’m enjoying it, it’s really nice to be racing both championships.”
The combination of his Scuderia Corsa entry last season, working closely with Dunlop, and a hunger to compete at Le Mans has put Serra into a strong position ahead of his first race this weekend, he believes.
“Every driver wants to be racing at Le Mans,” he said. “It’s such a big event and I’m really happy to be doing it with a professional team in the Pro category, so I’m looking forward to it.
“I’m feeling comfortable; I just need to [learn] the tracks. There’s so much to it, with strategy and tires. This year the tires are much more difficult than last year.
“We’ve got a lot of things to try and understand in Free Practice, but I’m excited.”