Bruno Senna talks 2017: “600hp, more downforce, great circuits and winning races!”

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With the 2017 FIA World Endurance Cham­pi­onship begin­ing this week­end, we caught up with Rebel­lion Racing’s Bruno Sen­na to get his thoughts ahead of the new sea­son. The Brazil­ian is set for his sec­ond full sea­son in LMP2, how­ev­er over the win­ter has made the switch between RGR Sport and Rebel­lion Rac­ing, who have stepped across into the LMP2 class this sea­son. Despite the switch, Senna’s aim for 2017 is clear: “Focus­ing on win­ning Le Mans this year.”

On the switch between teams for 2017, Sen­na explained, “I had a real blast last year with RGR. The whole team/driver envi­ron­ment was sec­ond to none. Fil­ipe (Albu­querque) and Ricar­do (Gon­za­lez) did such an amaz­ing job the whole year and so did the team. Lots of learn­ing to do, but we still man­aged to fin­ish a close sec­ond in the cham­pi­onship dur­ing the team’s first year.” He added, “The switch to Rebel­lion came as there was some uncer­tain­ty as to the RGR pro­gram going for­ward into 2017.”

Despite the WEC not being on track for a race week­end since Novem­ber last year, Sen­na has had a busy win­ter, keep­ing his eye in in his role as McLaren Auto­mo­tive Ambas­sador and devel­op­ment dri­ver. The Brazil­lian not­ed that his oppor­tu­ni­ty to try ice dri­ving with the British team was “tremen­dous fun”.

Sen­na how­ev­er has not stopped rac­ing over the win­ter as he has been com­pet­ing in the Unit­ed States. Sen­na explained, “I’m also doing the North Amer­i­can Endurance Cup with ESM.” So far he has helped his team mates, Ed Brown, Johennes van Over­beek and Bren­don Hart­ley to a 17th at the 24 Hours of Day­tona in Jan­u­ary.

LMP2 has a new look this year. With the new chas­sis reg­u­la­tions com­ing in for 2017, All cars will be in the shape of the new Ore­ca 07. The update from the 05 from pre­vi­ous years and the new 07 means faster cars this sea­son. Sen­na expand­ed: “LMP2 is great fun. Lots of close rac­ing and high lev­el dri­vers mak­ing the series super com­pet­i­tive. I think the new cars will make our lives a bit eas­i­er, when deal­ing with the GT traf­fic.”

Last sea­son it was very hard to over­take the GT cars between the cor­ners, which forced us to lunge into the cor­ners, tak­ing more risks. And obvi­ous­ly, faster cars, more thrills.”

Although the cars are expect­ed to be faster across the lap, the new Ore­ca 07 does not trump the 05 in all areas. Sen­na told us, “This season’s car has more engine pow­er, but less torque. That means cor­ner exits will become more impor­tant and tricky as the ini­tial pick-up won’t be quite as crisp as before.”

Despite the cars gear­ing up for their first sea­son in com­pe­ti­tion, Sen­na is not wor­ried about reli­a­bil­i­ty, adding: “The new Gib­son engine is being test­ed to exhaus­tion in the US with 3 cars run­ning it dur­ing win­ter test­ing and the 24h of Day­tona, so I believe we’ll have a reli­able car for 2017.”

With only four full-sea­son LMP1 hybrids on this year’s entry list, Sen­na not­ed that get­ting an LMP2 car onto the over­all podi­um is not out of the ques­tion, although the team will keep their focus on the class stand­ings rather than the over­all.

This could be a very inter­est­ing pos­si­bil­i­ty, but we def­i­nite­ly pay more atten­tion to our own podi­um and cham­pi­onship, in gen­er­al. It would be fun to share the podi­um with the big guys and car­ry a cou­ple of tro­phies back home, nonethe­less.”

For this sea­son, Bruno Sen­na will be shar­ing dri­ving duties with Nico Prost in his #31 Rebel­lion Ore­ca 07. See­ing the names Prost and Sen­na along­side each oth­er is not some­thing that would have hap­pend back in the late 80s and ear­ly 90s, how­ev­er Bruno is look­ing for­ward to work­ing with his new team mate.

I’m very hap­py to work with Nico, as we’re good friends and he’s proven he can do a strong job in many dif­fer­ent series. I think we will have a cham­pi­onship-chal­leng­ing line-up with Julien Canal join­ing us in the car!” said Sen­na.

Join WEC-Mag­a­zin to find out how Bruno Sen­na and Vail­lante Rebel­lion get on at the 6 Hours of Sil­ver­stone this week­end. The #31 Rebel­lion will be in action in pro­to­type qual­i­fy­ing at 13:30 on Sat­ur­day before the race that runs for mid­day to 18:00 on Sun­day.

Images: WEC-Mag­a­zin — Wal­ter Schruff and James Clarke
Inter­view: WEC-Mag­a­zin — James Clarke