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Daytona 24 Hours performance a "question mark" for Proton's GTP squad - Bruni

Gianmaria Bruni says the Daytona 24 Hours will be a "question mark" for his Proton Porsche squad as it beds in new drivers and personnel for the first time.

#99 Proton Competition Porsche 963: Gianmaria Bruni, Harry Tincknell, Neel Jani

Photo by: Shameem Fahath

Christian Ried's privateer Porsche 963 outfit entered the final three races of the World Endurance Championship and IMSA SportsCar Championship last season ahead of full season programmes in both series in 2024, beginning with the IMSA season opener at Daytona later this month.

It was announced earlier this week that Bruni and full-season co-driver Neel Jani will be joined by Romain Dumas and Alessio Picariello for the 24 Hours, with the latter pair due to drive the car for the first time at next week's Roar Before the 24 pre-event test.

Speaking to Autosport, four-time Le Mans class winner Bruni said the "Roar is going to be like a shakedown" for the Proton team that has not run the 963 since the 2023 WEC finale in Bahrain.

"This year is also again everything new," the Italian said.

"We didn’t do any testing or anything else, even a seat-fitting or something since Bahrain, so it’s really a question mark, question mark, question mark.

"Also my team-mate [Dumas], he’s going to come back from Dakar when the Roar is going to start so it’s going to be challenging, I would say.

"But it’s like this, we cannot change it."

#99 Proton Competition Porsche 963: Gianmaria Bruni, Harry Tincknell, Neel Jani

Photo by: Porsche

#99 Proton Competition Porsche 963: Gianmaria Bruni, Harry Tincknell, Neel Jani

On the Proton team's first outing with a prototype at Daytona last year, Bruni was part of the winning lineup in LMP2 as team-mate James Allen snatched the victory away from Ben Hanley's Algarve Pro-run Crowdstrike entry by 0.016s at the line.

Bruni acknowledged that the team returns to Daytona in "a very similar situation than last year" with new mechanics and engineers attached to the programme, but feels the team is well-placed to build on an encouraging end to 2023.

Together with Jani and Harry Tincknell, Bruni scored the programme's first GTP podium in the final round at Petit Le Mans, which represented an encouraging response to a freak seatbelt problem that thwarted a strong run in the WEC's Fuji 6 Hours.

"This was a good team result for sure and we were very happy, especially after Fuji," he said.

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"It shows that Proton can be there even with a limited time on the car.

"It’s always nice to have a preparation, but at the end [in] these endurance races, everything can happen and especially when you are in America and IMSA races when you have so many categories together, and you have so many yellows in the race.

"Anything can happen until the checkered flag. This is also what is good about IMSA, that you always have a chance, wherever you are, whatever your starting position, you can have always a chance to do something if you are on the [lead lap] group."

Proton will not defend its P2 class victory, but will field a full-season Ford Mustang GT3 entry in the pro-am GTD class with Giammarco Levorato and Corey Lewis joined by newly-appointed Ford factory driver Dennis Olsen and team regular Ryan Hardwick at Daytona.

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