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