Bruni set to miss full WEC season for Porsche switch

Gianmaria Bruni is set to have to sit out the entire FIA World Endurance Championship season in 2017, after officially terminating his Ferrari contract in order to move to rival GT squad Porsche.

Bruni set to miss full WEC season for Porsche switch
#51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE: Gianmaria Bruni, James Calado
#51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE: Gianmaria Bruni
#912 Porsche Team North America Porsche 911 RSR: Kevin Estre, Laurens Vanthoor, Richard Lietz
#51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE: Gianmaria Bruni, James Calado
#912 Porsche Team North America Porsche 911 RSR: Kevin Estre, Laurens Vanthoor, Richard Lietz, #67 Ford Performance Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT: Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook, Scott Dixon
#51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE: Gianmaria Bruni, James Calado
#51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE: Gianmaria Bruni, James Calado THIRD PLACE GTE PRO
#51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE: Gianmaria Bruni, James Calado

The Italian driver has been part of Ferrari's works AF Corse operation in the global sportscar series since its inception in 2012, winning the GTE Pro class title in both 2012 and 2014.

But Bruni has been working to find a way out of his long-term agreement with the Prancing Horse in order to join Porsche, which returns to WEC this year with a pair of mid-engined factory 911 RSRs.

After weeks of wrangling, Bruni and Ferrari have now finally gone their separate ways, with official confirmation expected to arrive on Sunday evening - along with a statement from Porsche to indicate the Italian's arrival.

However, Motorsport.com understands Ferrari has imposed a term of gardening leave on Bruni that prevents the 35-year-old from racing for Porsche in WEC for the entire 2017 season.

Bruni will however be free to test and develop the 911 RSR, as well as compete for the Stuttgart marque in championships other than WEC - with the US-based IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship among his possible destinations before a 2018 WEC seat.

With Bruni on the sidelines, it is expected either Romain Dumas or Sven Muller will join the already-announced trio of Richard Lietz, Michael Christensen and Frederic Makowiecki as Porsche's fourth works driver in WEC's GTE Pro division.

Calado's teammate still uncertain

Ferrari held a shootout at Vallelunga with four drivers earlier this month in order to try and decide on a replacement for Bruni alongside James Calado in its #51 Ferrari 488 GTE.

McLaren protege Nyck de Vries and former Audi DTM driver Miguel Molina emerged as the favourites for the seat after the test, which also involved Alessandro Pier Guidi and Alex RIberas.

However, it's understood a decision on who will partner Calado is still yet to be taken, and that it's possible a driver who was not part of the shootout may yet be handed the seat.

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