It is the Italian's third successive GT pole for Ferrari at the Twelve Hours of Sebring, the traditional opening round of the ALMS, but the first for the Risi team since Petit Le Mans in 2010. Bruni won the Florida classic with Risi in 2010, and has claimed GT pole for Italy's AF Corse team in 2011 and 2012.
A delighted Giuseppe Risi, Team Principal, said afterwards: "This is a very good start for us for the weekend. It shows that our team is together and, more than anything else, I'm pleased for them as they've worked well together and put in a lot of hours leading up until today. Hopefully we're giving our drivers the car they need to succeed tomorrow as that's the result that matters the most."
After a 12-month gap from competition, Risi has put Ferrari back at the front of GT racing in North America. Up against Aston Martin, BMW, Corvette, a second Ferrari 458, Porsche and the SRT Vipers, the race is destined to be one of the classics. It is the last time that the Twelve Hours of Sebring will be run under the ALMS banner, with the combined ALMS/Grand-Am series due to operate next year as United Sportscar Racing.
Gimmi Bruni and his Risi team mates, Olivier Beretta and Matteo Malucelli, have worked closely with the team's engineering team and Michelotto all week to optimize the set up for the F458. With varying weather and track conditions right up until today, the team's pace and performance has improved incrementally as the week has progressed. In this morning's final practice session, Bruni gave an early indication of his intent to gain pole, topping the time sheets once again.
The Roman driver, now based in Monaco, loves racing in North America and was thrilled to give Giuseppe Risi this well-timed boost before tomorrow's race.
Gianmaria Bruni: "For sure it was a very nice qualifying session with a clear track and no traffic. I'm very happy for Giuseppe Risi and the team. His passion has got the team back to the ALMS and everyone's worked very hard to get to where we are today.
"It's great to be back in the ALMS, on a nice circuit like this at Sebring, and to start the first qualifying session of the year with pole. I have liked the circuit ever since my first race here with Risi in 2008; I like the bumps and when it's not easy for everyone - it's a bigger challenge.
"I'm very happy to be working with Matteo and Olivier for this race, and I hope they will have a great season with the red car in the USA. I hope we can convert it into a win tomorrow, unlike the last two years, and look forward to being in a great position at 10:45 pm tomorrow."
The 61st Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida is set for 10:45 am ET on Saturday, March 16 from Sebring International Raceway. Additional content such as live in-car cameras and timing and scoring for all users around the world is available through www.americanlemans.com. Viewers outside the USA can watch the Sebring 12 Hours and all ALMS races live on ALMS.com.