Senna
Credit: FIA WEC

Bruno Senna has established a successful career in endurance racing and is the only driver in the FIA World Endurance Championship to claim a race victory in all-four categories.

Currently driving for the Rebellion Racing LMP1 team in Season 8 of the WEC, Bruno has spent seven years building up a career in the endurance discipline after campaigns in Formula 3, GP2 Series and Formula 1 with stints for HRT and then Williams Racing.

As the nephew of the late three-time F1 world champion Ayrton Senna, Bruno grew up around motorsport and was first taught by his grandfather Milton da Silva when he was five years old. Bruno spent time racing go-karts against his uncle, Ayrton, on the family farm.

Ayrton highly regarded the aptitude of Bruno and famously said: “If you think I’m fast, just wait until you see my nephew Bruno,” when he left the McLaren Formula 1 team at the end of 1993.

Ayrton Senna with Bruno (R) and his sister Bianca – Image Credit: u/NexusBoy via Reddit

Ayrton’s death on May 1 at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix in the Williams brought not only the motorsport world to tears, but halted Bruno’s racing (karting) career.

Despite this and the death of his father in a motorbike accident in 1996, Bruno’s mother and his uncle’s (Ayrton) sister Viviane were keen to pursue Bruno’s racing interests.

After finishing GP2 claiming P2 in the standings in his second season, adding onto expectations drawn from his surname entering F1, he never managed to score a podium or win thus ended his Formula 1 campaign at the end of 2012.

He was dropped in favour of Finnish rookie Valtteri Bottas, after finishing 16th in the drivers’ standings.

On February 5 2013, it was officially announced that Senna would be racing for Aston Martin Racing in the FIA World Endurance Championship and the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2013, and would depart from Formula 1 to embark on this venture.

His first win in LM-GTE Pro and LM-GTE Am

In 2013, Bruno drove in the #97 Aston Martin Racing Vantage in the LM-GTE Pro category alongside teammates Darren Turner and Stefan Mucke to win on debut at the 6 Hours of Silverstone.

Embed from Getty Images

He spent only one race in their Am car at the 2013 6 Hours of Fuji, where they claimed the win and pole position.

Later that season, the Am and Pro entries for Aston Martin Racing went onto claim consecutive team’s titles.

At that year’s Le Mans 24, he drove in the #99 AMR GTE-Pro car to achieve a P3 class finish, behind the two Porsche GTs.

The race also marked the unfortunate death of Allan Simonsen in the #95 Aston Martin GTE-Am car.

With a comfortable lead in the GTE-Am class, he faced a head-on collision into the Armco barrier at Tertre Rouge. After being pronounced dead at the infield medical centre, his partner insisted that AMR continued racing.

The #99 crew chased the GTE leaders into the race, having qualified P1 (a 1-2 qualification for AMR) ahead of the main event.

At the 16th hour, Richard Lietz brought the #92 Porsche to the pit lane and had its brake discs changed in four minutes. This gave the lead of LMGTE Pro to Senna’s No. 99 Aston Martin, which held three-quarters of a minute advantage over him; Lietz (behind) lowered it to six seconds by the hour’s end.

Embed from Getty Images

Soon later after drama in LMP1 brought out a safety car period, and after rivals overcame their need to repair, the team lost it’s lead and maintained the second position.

Makowiecki took over from Senna in the #99 Aston Martin and pulled away from Lieb’s #92 Porsche.

Rain again fell on the circuit with five hours and fifteen minutes to go and some cars were caught out in the change of weather. One of which was in the hands of Makowiecki, who veered to the left exiting the second Mulsanne chicane and collided head-on with a barrier.

Bruno Senna in the #99 car DNF’d on his Le Mans debut but continued to race for the AMR (Pro) team in 2014, acknowledging the circumstances on his first Le Mans 24.

The overall race leader in LMP1, Tom Kristensen, dedicated his win to Simonsen and the Danish flag was set to half-mast on the podium ceremony in his honour.

His first win in LMP2

After dedicating 2015 towards Formula E (driving for Mahindra Racing), Stock Car Brasil and the Blancpain Endurance Series, he returned to WEC in 2016.

He drove for #43 RGR Sport by Morland in a Nissan-powered Ligier JS P2, a team who made the switch from single-seaters to endurance prototype racing back in 2011.

Embed from Getty Images

The win claimed by the trio of Bruno Senna, Filipe Albuquerque, and Ricardo Gonzalez (also co-owner of the team) was at the season opener at Silverstone.

The six-hour-long event allowed the squad to illustrate the pace of their LMP2 after qualifying in third behind #31 Extreme Speed Motorsports and #26 G-Drive Racing, and ahead of the two SMP Racing cars.

After making contact at the start, Bruno Senna soon overtook Rusinov of G-Drive into Maggots corner for second place.

The first round of pit stops kicked off after 37 minutes and Senna was promoted into the LMP2 lead.

As the teams around them sought contact with each other, RGR Sport was consistent in all stints to run a clean race.

The victory brought Alburqurque and Senna their first WEC LMP2 class victories and Gonzalez’s fourth.

The first win in LMP1

Then came the victory to complete the WEC set, at the 2019 4 Hours of Shanghai of Season 8 (current).

Furthermore, the victory was iconic in WEC history as it had a privateer win overall for the first time, achieved on raw pace and a perfected strategy.

The privateer in question was Rebellion Racing, as the LMP1 success handicaps implemented for Season 8 showcased the true potential of their R13 prototypes.

They had spent the previous (SuperSeason) years in the shadow of the Toyota GAZOO Racing LMP1s who asserted their full potential at every race. Rebellion Racing were left to fight against their fellow privateers.

At the expense of Toyota GAZOO Racing, spectators witnessed a dominating performance from a non-hybrid LMP1 prototype. The #1 car drove Rebellion to take their first-ever on-track victory, following their promotion to P1 after TGR’s disqualification at the 2018 6 Hours of Silverstone.

Embed from Getty Images

In his seven years of participation in the World Endurance Championship so far, he has racked up 10 wins, 24 podiums, and 8 pole positions.

In a post-race press conference, Bruno highlighted his struggles of pace early in his stints but stated how that hurdle was overcome.

“I felt Norman’s pain (who started the race) as I started (my stint) on a full set of quali (qualifying) tyres and we were really struggling for pace – actually I was losing time to the guys behind me on old tyres/second-stint tyres, and it was a real struggle.

“Once we put two new tyres on the rear, the car was transformed completely – it was a new car!”

“It was just like that so I could push (the car),” he reflected being able to make the most of the R13’s pace.

The team had been suffering minor reliability issues in the past and, alongside their performance disadvantage to the Toyotas, encountered no issues concerning pitstops or reliability.

He had remarkably won with Rebellion in their LMP2 outfit after they won the title in 2017 and in their LMP1 car at the end of 2019.

Embed from Getty Images

On November 10, Bruno Senna had achieved the full set of wins and made WEC history as the only driver to win in each WEC category.

With 10 class wins and 21 podiums in 41 starts so far, Bruno Senna asserted his potential away from single-seaters and into the world of endurance racing.

He will look for more after his most recent win at the 2020 Lone Star Le Mans at COTA.

Leave a Reply