After a year away, Gianmaria Bruni says he’s looking forward to his return to the FIA World Endurance Championship, in his first full season in Porsche machinery.
The two-time GTE-Pro class champion has rejoined the globe-trotting series for the 2018-19 season following a mid-year start with the German manufacturer in North America due to contractual obligations with his previous employer, Ferrari.
Bruni completed the second half of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season with the CORE autosport-run factory Porsche squad in GT Le Mans, as well as the opening two rounds of this year’s championship, but has now set his sights on a title attack in the WEC’s ‘Super Season’.
“It’s what I was working and hoping for,” Bruni told Sportscar365. “This year started well for Porsche with the Sebring win and winter testing, so let’s see what WEC brings.”
While coming at vastly different style tracks and under a different team leadership, Bruni believes his nine-race campaign in the WeatherTech Championship will pay dividends this season.
The 36-year-old Italian teamed with Laurens Vanthoor for the partial-season effort last year, collecting podiums at Lime Rock and Road America, while also finishing third in class in last month’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
“The rules are different and the tires are different, but the car is pretty much the same,” Bruni said. “I had a good experience racing from July last year until March, which was an experience to learn the Porsche structure.
“Also the car was completely different to what I used to drive, and now we need to try to get the good results out of it during this Super Season.
“I was following the battles of the No. 91 car [in WEC] until the end of the season. The pace was there, but sometimes strategy and other things didn’t work so well.
“This year I hope we can put everything together and get to the top of the podium soon.”
Despite a pair of class victories in IMSA competition, the mid-engined Porsche 911 RSR, now in its second year, has still yet to win in WEC, although Bruni believes that’s about to change.
Teamed with 2015 GTE-Pro champion Richard Lietz, Porsche has created the most successful driver lineup in the class, at a time that has seen increased competition with the arrival of BMW.
“It will bring a fantastic show,” Bruni said. “WEC is a great championship for endurance racing, now with BMW coming in. There is lots of effort from the manufacturers to ensure we have a great show during the races.
“Everybody will be stronger this year, and will be out there fighting until the end with a full set of new tires. I hope we can part of this.”
Bruni on Manthey Integration
While not new to the manufacturer or car, Bruni has had to adjust to the operational differences of the Manthey-run WEC squad.
The transition, however, has been aided by Porsche’s hiring of Luca Massé, Bruni’s former engineer at AF Corse, who has joined the factory squad this year.
“It’s different for me,” Bruni said. “We’ve already done a few days of testing and my third test with Manthey [came at the Prologue]. I’m getting to know the team members better, so everything is positive.”