After sitting on the sidelines this year, and having nearly turned his full attention to other business ventures, Bruno Junquiera is back behind the wheel of a race car this weekend at Road America, a track that’s been a happy hunting ground for the Brazilian.
The former CART/Champ Car star and Prototype Challenge standout has returned to the PC ranks as part of BAR1 Motorsports’ expanded effort for the next two IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship races.
Junqueira, who shifted his focus to real estate in Miami after ending up without a full-time drive this year, has landed two top drives in the matter of a few weeks.
The 39-year-old Brazilian was recently confirmed in Greaves Motorsport’s LMP2 entry for the upcoming FIA World Endurance Championship race in Mexico City, while also getting a call from BAR1 team owner Brian Alder to drive the team’s No. 20 car, alongside Matt McMurry for Road America and Circuit of The Americas.
“[Brian] called me last last week,” Junqueira told Sportscar365. “I was actually at the airport going to Milan to test the LMP2 car.
“After I didn’t get the Nissan [LMP1] deal for this year, I went to Daytona to talk to him and the other teams and everyone had everything set up. I said if you ever need me, I’ll be available.
“It was good because I was doing some personal business in the first four or five months of the year and I was just about to finalize that and suddenly the racing came back. It was perfect.”
Junqueira is no stranger to success at the four-mile Wisconsin circuit, having claimed four wins at Road America, including his first victory in the U.S. in the 2001 CART race with Chip Ganassi Racing.
Fifteen years later, he revisited victory lane, but with RSR Racing, having teamed with Chris Cumming for the PC class win in 2015, which stands as his most recent triumph and heads into the weekend as the defending class winner.
“I love this track,” Junqueira said. “I’m very happy to back in the car, to have this opportunity in a car that I know and to be at Road America is even sweeter.
“There are a couple of weekends I always miss when I don’t race. Road America is one of them.
“To drive with Matt [McMurry], I know hime a little bit. I met him a couple of times. He’s a young driver and I think I can help him as well.
“I think both of us are going to have a good shot for this weekend.”
Junqueira has been one of the standout drivers in the PC ranks since his arrival in 2012, having scored five class wins and numerous poles, all with the Paul Gentilozzi-led RSR squad.
But when RSR withdrew from prototype competition at the end of last year, to shift its focus to the new F Performance Racing Lexus effort in the GT Daytona class, Junqueira was left without a ride.
He tested the Nissan GT-R LM NISMO in December and was tipped to become part of the factory LMP1 squad for 2016, prior to the program’s cancelation later that month.
Now with another opportunity at his fingertips, Junqueira is hoping a strong performance this weekend can help re-ignite his career and lead to a full-time drive next year.
“I’m 39 years young and I still think I can win some races,” he said. “Every year I won many races and poles with RSR.
“I hope team owners can see that and that I can do a good job in these races and that I can get a full ride next year.
“I can still give the young generation a good run for their money.”