“Gimmi” Bruni – Fast & Fearless

Gimmi Bruni doing what he does best. [Jack Webster Photo]

I have seen literally hundreds, if not thousands, of race drivers ply their craft. I have watched how they work from out on the circuit and have observed how they brake, take the apexes of corners, handle traffic and intense competition. I can honestly say that one of the most exciting drivers I have ever seen bond with a race car is Gimmi Bruni. The man is magical behind the wheel.

Italian Gianmaria Bruni, known around the world as Gimmi, took the normal path for European drivers: karting at a young age, then moving up through the ranks in Formula cars before getting a ride with Minardi in Formula One. Unfortunately, the Minardi F1 experience didn’t lead to a better ride. It is tough to prove yourself in Formula One, and even tougher when running with a low budget team like Minardi. As Gimmi told me in Austin, where we sat down for a conversation at the FIA-WEC race, “F1 is very difficult without a good car and it is difficult to prove how good you really are. It is a shame I couldn’t make a big impact in F1, but I’m lucky now. I have a good job and I really enjoy driving.”

Gimmi Bruni on the grid at Austin in 2014.  [Jack Webster Photo]

Gimmi Bruni on the grid at Austin in 2014. [Jack Webster Photo]

After his experience in the uncompetitive Minardi in 2004, Gimmi continued in single seaters for a couple of seasons in GP2, chalking up 3 wins, before finding his calling with Ferrari in GT racing. With Ferrari, Gimmi found his destiny in motorsport.

In 2007 he went sports car racing with Ferrari, winning three races in the FIA-GT series and finishing 2nd in the GT2 class championship.

In 2008 came what Gimmi describes as one of his biggest moments in racing, “I have very good memories driving for Ferrari. 2008 at Le Mans, winning for Risi was very special because Ferrari had not won GT at Le Mans for 6 years. I have had a lot of good races these past seven years with Ferrari.”

That might be a bit of an understatement. Bruni has won class at Le Mans 3 times driving for Ferrari – for both Risi Competizione and AF Corse. He has also won the GTE-Pro Championship in the FIA-WEC series in 2012 and 2013 and is currently in first place in the championship standings in 2014, having tallied victories at Spa, Le Mans and most recently at Fuji.

When you watch Gimmi on track in the Ferrari, you are seeing a master at work. His car control is outstanding and his braking technique going into corners is second to none. Sometimes you just cannot believe the dance he can make that Ferrari 458 Italia do on track. The man is fearless and extremely talented.

Ask him his favorite tracks in North America and his answer? Mosport and Sebring. Why? “Because of the high speed corners – I enjoy controlling the car at high speed.”

With Gimmi Bruni, it is all about car control and dancing on the very edge. Next time you are at a race where Gimmi is driving a Ferrari, take a close look at his technique on the track – for you can always tell when he is behind the wheel. As Justin Bell told me recently, who has driven with Gimmi, “The man has bigger balls than anyone else I have ever seen race.”

Fast and fearless – that’s Gimmi Bruni.

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