Very few drivers will ever touch the 40-race mark over one season of racing – Augusto Farfus did it in 2019. With 41 races contested this year, it’s been an extremely busy year for the BMW works pilot as he made the switch from DTM to race GTs in the FIA World Endurance Championship, Intercontinental GT Challenge and at the Nürburgring. Adding to the bulk of his races was the FIA World Touring Car Cup where he joined the Hyundai works team. Those countless kilometres, however, saw only little success, with victory in the Daytona 24 Hours being the only big prize in twelve months of racing. At the same time, it’s the accumulation of all that track time that gives the Brazilian hope for 2020 as the BMW M6 GT3 enters its final years before the new BMW M4 GT3 makes its race debut in 2021.
After seven seasons with BMW in the DTM, the 36-year-old left the championship to be more involved in the day-to-day running of the GT program.
“I really enjoyed it,” Augusto Farfus says. “It was a different season for me after I decided to quit DTM. I’ve had a lot of races all over the world, with different teammates, at different tracks, with different kinds of racing.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t have quite so much success with our M6 – I won Daytona at the beginning of the year which was very good – but then the year was a bit of a mixture of feelings and the Nürburgring 24 Hours didn’t go as we had planned.
“It’s been a different year and it’s been great; I learned new things and I enjoyed it.”
The season started eleven months ago with the Daytona 24 Hours where Farfus, racing the BMW Team RLL M8 GTE, arrived after a last-minute call from BMW to substitute for Tom Blomqvist. In the rain-lashed endurance classic it was his extensive experience that brought BMW its sole triumph of the year.
“The win in Daytona was a great moment,” the BMW works driver of twelve years says. “It was the biggest BMW achievement of the year – unfortunately, because BMW didn’t have success in DTM and GT3, so Daytona was the only race where they had success.
“It was raining heavily when I got into the car from P4 and I passed the three cars in front of me to take the victory. By the time they red-flagged the race I was already P1 – that was definitely the highlight of the year.
“The pass on James Calado in the Ferrari to get the victory… Still now when I see Calado, he says ‘Aagh, I should’ve blocked you there, you’ve won the [Daytona 24 Hours winners’ Rolex] watch!’”
From there it all went downhill as retirements and podium-misses followed. Lowest point of the year was the Nürburgring 24 Hours where all the effort and preparation were to no avail as all three works cars got involved in accidents before the race had even properly gotten underway, leaving only the Falken Motorsports BMW M6 GT3 to finish the race.
“We put a lot of effort into the Nürburgring 24 Hours and unfortunately it didn’t go as planned; we should have done better. We prepared well but couldn’t execute. It was very sad because we had a very good package and could have gotten a much better result and, in the end, we didn’t get to the finish with any of the works cars – it was very frustrating.
“At Spa it was the same where we crashed in the middle of the night, while in Macau we simply didn’t have the pace – I did what I could, but we didn’t have the pace. Our car is also starting to get a little bit old, so it’s normal, but I do think we can do better.”
There is light at the end of the tunnel, Farfus believes. His 19.200 kilometres in testing, racing, and a combination of both, could serve as the building blocks for success in 2020.
“You’ve seen me drive a lot of VLNs alone, which is hard work, it is really hard work,” the 2010 Nürburgring 24 Hours champion says, having gone it alone in a number of VLN races later in the season. “You have to do all of those hours behind the wheel yourself, try out the tyres. A lot of the testing was done for the tyres, for Michelin, and some for Pirelli as well. You try out things for the future, for new cars and so on. The work done at the Nürburgring is of course focused on the 24 Hours, but there are also private tests which we do to prepare for new cars.
“It was the first year that I really dedicated my full year to GT motorsport. There is a lot of room for improvement there and that’s what I’m focused on at the moment, to help the company succeed and be stronger on the customer racing programs.
“I also tested the BMW M2 Competition, validated the last test for the M2 race car which is a really nice car. Of course, it’s something very different [from what I’m used to] but I really enjoyed it as well. I did the very last few days of testing to finalise the car a little bit and share my opinion. It’s purely customer and club racing. For the price and what it delivers it’s very unique.
“There are a lot of things happening that people don’t see. It’s always nice to drive a race car.”
The key to success simply lies in hard work, Farfus concludes, as he looks to the final year of the BMW M6 GT3 as the Bayerische car manufacturer’s weapon of choice.
“In the end, we’ll have the same car again, so we know the car very well which is an advantage. But on the other hand, other brands are bringing new GT3s while we are stuck with our old one.
“This year was the first time that I could really follow the development of the M6. In the past, I’d come in, do the Nürburgring, and then go again. You don’t follow the process of evolving the car. Before, it was just coming in for two, three races a year in a GT3, so you’d sit down and drive what you have. This year I could learn the car and help the team and BMW to improve in some areas.
“Of course, there isn’t much to be done on the car anymore, but it gave us a lot of ideas for future programs to get the new cars and start from a much higher level – that’s what I take away from this year.”
Max Bermel contributed to this report.