Gianmaria Bruni says he’s treating his mid-season debut with Porsche as a “learning year” as the newly signed factory driver acclimates to his new world with the German manufacturer.
The three-time 24 Hours of Le Mans class-winner, who was forced to sit out the first half of the year to fulfill his exit agreement with Ferrari, is set to complete the remainder of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season, prior to a likely return to the FIA World Endurance Championship in 2018.
Bruni’s new adventure kicks off with today’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, alongside Laurens Vanthoor in the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR, something the 36-year-old Italian said has been long in the making.
“It finally has become true,” he told Sportscar365. “I’ve been waiting eight months so it was a long wait.
“For sure it’s not easy to do because I’m stepping in the middle of the season with no testing, really. It’s a new car and new people.
“But I will take this year as learning as much as possible, from the car, people, working with a different attitude and approach than I used to be for the last ten years.”
Having spent the last decade with Ferrari, where he claimed back-to-back WEC GTE titles, Bruni said it’s been a big adjustment acclimating to the new mid-engined Porsche 911 RSR.
His Ferrari contract prevented him from turning his first laps in the GTE contender until last month, having completed a two-day test at Road America with the CORE autosport-run operation, as well as a single-day test at Vallelunga.
Bruni said he didn’t head in with any particular expectations of the car, which has helped the transition.
“It’s different,” he said. “It gives you a different feeling, different behavior. It’s like starting from [scratch]. But it’s something good.
“In life, especially this time, it’s something that gives you more motivation to work harder and improve and try to do the same with [a different] manufacturer.
“I really didn’t expect anything. I just wanted to have a change and new challenge. It will not be easy for sure. Or maybe we’ll be more successful and more happy after.”
Despite the limited mileage so far, having completed only 20 laps at Watkins Glen prior to his race debut, Bruni stressed the remainder of the WeatherTech Championship season is being treated as a learning experience.
This weekend has also been his first time working with his new co-driver, who the Italian has already spoken very highly of.
“I’ve met a very fast and talented driver [in Laurens], Bruni said.
“This is really the first few days we’re working together because at Road America he was driving the other car, so we never really worked together.”
“It’s going to be difficult but I think going to the end of the season [together] will be good.
“It’s a very high level championship with many GT manufacturers involved. It’s nice to be in the U.S., it’s different and it will be good preparation for next year.
“For this weekend, [the goal is to] learn as much as possible because I’ve never been here before. It’s just learning and get ready for the next races.”