Lilian Bryner

Lilian Bryner

21/4/1959

Looking at Lilian Bryner's past, it is clear to see she has a taste for adventure. She has progressed from Olympic showjumper in 1980 to one of the world's leading GT racers in 2006, via international photojournalism and a spell as a commercial pilot and professional flight instructor. Having done that much already, she was  still only thirty-two when she turned to motorsport in 1991, racing in the Porsche Cup. As there are no race tracks in her native Switzerland, she drove in neighbouring Germany in a Carrera for two years.

After some good results, it was time to step up in 1993, when Lilian contested the Grand Prix- supporting Porsche Supercup series. That year also saw her first Le Mans appearance, also in a Carrera, which ended in retirement. However, the following year she scored her best-ever result at the classic Sarthe event in a similar Porsche. She came ninth overall and second in the GT2 class.

Her fortunate streak continued in 1995. That year she won the Porsche Supercup outright and was GT2 champion in the BPR GT series with seven class wins. Her best overall finish was third at Jerez against much more powerful competition. Her team-mate in the BPR was another Swiss, Enzo Calderari. The pair have been driving together ever since. The Bryner/Calderari combination was also a hit at the Daytona 24 Hours, coming fifth, but Le Mans ended in another retirement. They had no more luck in 1996, when an accident in their Porsche during qualifying meant that they couldn't start. Still, a GT2 class win at Daytona and best finishes of third and fourth in BPR meant that the season was mainly a positive one.

In 1997 things were not so good. There was only enough money to compete in three FIA GT rounds in the Porsche, and Le Mans was a disaster yet again. Lilian retired the car early on with engine trouble on her last attempt at the 24 Hours. A third in the GT2 class of the Sebring 12 Hours was her best result.

In 1998 it was time for a change. Having raced Porsche GTs for many seasons now, Lilian and Enzo switched to a Ferrari 333SP prototype run by the BMS Scuderia Italia team. The change did them good; they won the Italian Enduro Challenge outright and also claimed victory in the Monza 1000km, a round of the Sports Racing World Cup. An excellent third in the Donington round gave the pair and team-mate Angelo Zadra eighth overall in the championship. This made up for Lilian's last lap coming-together with a backmarker whilst leading the Vallelunga 6 Hours. It was during her time in the SRWC that she built up a reputation as a tough, uncompromising driver, although she was much more careful after the Vallelunga embarrassment.

The team stayed together for 1999. Another third at Monza and fifth spots at Barcelona, Brno and Enna-Pergusa gave them seventh place in the SRWC. A trip across the water to Daytona earnt them a fourth place, Lilian's best finish there so far.

By 2000, Lilian, Enzo and Angelo were an experienced team. The Ferrari was ultra-reliable and they finished every race except one in the SRWC. They finished second in the final results after a win at Spa, another third at Donington and fifth places at Barcelona, Monza and Magny Cours.

The SRWC became the FIA Sportscar Championship the following season and BMS Scuderia still entered.  However, the team only managed tenth in the championship, with a best finish of second. The other teams had brought out new cars and last year's rock-solid Ferrari 333SP was now looking long in the tooth. Angelo Zadra joined the car in retirement at the end of the year.

Lilian and Enzo stayed with BMS Scuderia Italia the following season. Team owner, erstwhile rally privateer Frédéric Dor, had purchased two Ferrari 550 Maranellos and intended to drive one himself alongside the Swiss pairing. Andrea Piccini and Jean-Denis Deletraz dove the other car. for Lilian, it was a year best put down as a "learning year". She started brightly enough with a fifth in the first round but struggled after that. The partnership with Dor was not working and it showed. When he replaced himself with Jean-Marc Gounon near the end of the season the results started to come again. However, Lilian's miserable year was not over yet. Enzo Calderari broke his arm in an accident and had to sit the last few races out. Lilian was moved in to Deletraz and Piccini's car as a third driver for the Spa 24 Hours and acquitted herself well, but she still only managed nineteenth overall in the final standings.

When Enzo had recovered, the pair stayed with BMS for 2003, but as members of the satellite Care Racing team. With more experience of the car and an agreeable team-mate in Stefano Livio, they were impressive. One win and a string of top-five finishes left them fifth overall. They won their class in the Spa 24 Hours, won by a smaller GT2 car for the first time ever, driving quickly but steadily in the pouring rain. The 550 proved reliable and the sister cars of Gollin/Capellari and Biagi/Bobbi  won consistently.

However, the car's success in 2003 did not help much in 2004. That year, all three machines had to run with restricted air intakes to allow the competition to catch up, which meant that Lilian was having to drive harder than ever to achieve the results she was capable of. This did not stop her and her team-mates from taking a historic outright win at the Spa 24 Hours in July 2004, a first win in a 24-hour race for a woman and Care Racing's first of the season. The trio were also fifth at Monza and Imola, seventh at Donington and Brno, sixth at Oschersleben, fourth at Zhuhai in China and third at Hockenheim and Dubai. Stefano Livio did not race at Dubai or Zhuhai and was replaced my Max Biagi and Christophe Bouchut respectively.

Uncharacteristically, Lilian and Enzo, her partner as well as her colleague, changed teams at the end of the 2005 season. BMS Scuderia Italia and Care Racing had pulled out of FIA GTs, so they teamed up with Larbre Competition, who were more famous for running Chrysler Vipers than that season's Ferrari 550 Maranello. The second Larbre car, driven by Lilian, Enzo and fellow Swiss Steve Zacchia, only appeared for the first two rounds at Monza and Magny-Cours, coming sixth both times. It returned for the Proximus Spa 24 Hours, where Lilian and her team-mates were fourth, but that was its only other outing. The Ferrari was still capable of success, but the Aston Martin DB9s and Maserati MC12s were catching up and winning.

The Swiss pair joined up with BMS Scuderia Italia again during the off-season. The Italian team was entering the new European GT3 Championship, running an Aston Martin DB9 in the Aston Martin Cup. At the opening round, at Silverstone, they could only manage a brace of 24th places and were seriously off the pace. Not long afterwards, it was announced that the duo had left the team, citing "personal difficulties". It is not known what these circumstances are, or whether Lilian will return to BMS (or motorsport) at all.