Porsche has confirmed that Gianmaria Bruni, one of the finest GT drivers of his generation, will join its works squad later in 2017.
Bruni will start testing from June and contest races in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in the US from July onwards.
The 35-year old Italian has a long history in GTs, most notably driving Ferraris. He was part of the driving line-up of two teams who have won the GT class of 24 Hours of Le Mans three times in the iconic marque. In 2008, as part of the Risi Competizione squad alongside Mika Salo and Jaime Melo, he won the GT2 class in the team’s Ferrari F430. Four years later he returned to the top step of the LMGTE Pro podium in the AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia alongside Giancarlo Fisichella and Toni Vilander. The trio repeated the victory in the 2014 running of the French classic.
Bruni won the GTE Pro championship in the 2013 and 2014 seasons of the FIA World Endurance Championship, again driving for AF Corse.
Porsche Motorsport is excited with its signing.
“We’re delighted to welcome Gianmaria Bruni, one of the world’s top GT pilots, into our squad,” said head of Porsche Motorsport, Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser. “He fits perfectly into our strong circle of works drivers and will join us for the second half of the season.”
Bruni commented on social media that he “needed a new challenge” but that he will “never forget my past”.
Bruni will potentially be available to join his new team for the Sahlen’s Six Hours Of The Glen on June 29 to July 02, the sixth round of the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
February has been a busy month for CEFC Manor TRS Racing as it announces new corporate alliances and also drivers for the forthcoming FIA World Endurance Championship season.
Having previously announced that it will campaign two Gibson-powered ORECA 07s in the LMP2 class of the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship, Manor has formed alliances with China CEFC Energy Company Ltd, ice-cream brand Baxi and Talent Racing Sports (TRS). As a result, in 2017 the team will be presented as CEFC Manor TRS Racing.
“We are really excited to be returning to the World Endurance Championship this year and we are particularly excited to be starting our long-term relationship with CEFC, TRS and Baxi,” said President and Sporting Director of Manor, Graeme Lowdon. “We learnt so much in our augural year in sports car racing and we are now looking forward to taking on a very competitive field in LMP2 for what will be our 28th year of racing.”
Joe Li, President of Talent Racing Sports is also excited about the opportunities that new partnership and season offer.
“It is a great honour to work with a legendary racing team like Manor,” said Li. “We believe the partnership will go beyond the LMP2 in WEC. We will introduce more Chinese brands to such a fantastic global racing series.”
Subsequent to the partnership announcement, CEFC Manor TRS Racing has announced three of its 2017 drivers.
Monterrey-based Roberto Gonzalez has returned to the team, having competed with Manor in the last two rounds of the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship.
“I am very excited to be joining CEFC Manor TRS Racing for the 2017 WEC season,” said Gonzalez. “After my brief participation with the team last year, I really felt at home. I am thankful for the opportunity with the team and I am feeling very motivated for the season ahead.”
Swiss driver Simon Trummer will also be joining CEFC Manor TRS Racing for 2017. Trummer contested the 2015 and 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship seasons as a member of By Kolles Racing Team in the LMP1 class. 2017 will be his first season in the ultra-competitive LMP2 class.
“I am very grateful to John Booth and Graeme Lowdon for their belief in me,” said Trummer. “This year a new era begins in LMP2 with new powerful cars that will be significantly quicker and therefore more challenging. To go for podiums in this competitive class is our target.”
The most recent driver announcement has been that of Jonathan Hirschi. The Swiss driver’s career stretches back to 2004 and Hirschi has extensive experience in the LMP2 class, having competed in the category on two previous occasions at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Jonathan Hirschi said: “I’m really happy to join CEFC Manor TRS Racing for WEC this season. After three seasons in ELMS I am really happy to be taking part in WEC and to return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans.”
The 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship opens with the 6 Hours of Silverstone on April 16.
Following the success of the inaugural ‘Road To Le Mans’ race for the LMP3 and GT3 classes in 2016, the Automobile Club de L’Ouest has announced that two races will be held during race week of the 2017 24 Heures du Mans.
Entries will be increased to 46 from 42 and teams entered for the full Michelin Le Mans Cup, which has been expanded this year to include both LMP3 and GT3 machinery, will receive an automatic acceptance into the event.
The first 55-minute race will be held on Thursday June 15 at 5.30pm (local time) with the second on the 24 Hours race day itself at 11:30am (local time).
Practice and qualification will consist of two one-hour practice sessions on Wednesday June 14 with two 20-minute qualifying sessions on Thursday June 15.
Two drivers will share the duties in each car with a 20-minute minimum drive time for each driver and a one-minute pit-stop within a defined time window.
The 2016 Road to Le Mans race was won by the #85 Nissan-powered DC Racing Ligier JS P3 driven by Thomas Laurent and Alexandre Cougnaud.
"When you're racing, it's life. Anything that happens before or after is…. just waiting. " Steve McQueen – "Le Mans" – 1971