Augusto Farfus has downplayed the new M4 GT3’s chances at the Rolex 24 at Daytona as the manufacturer focuses on establishing “the right base” for the car in competition.
Farfus is one of eight factory drivers giving the BMW M4 GT3 its IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship debut this weekend, in what is the highest-profile race for the program so far after recent 24-hour outings at Sebring and Dubai.
The Brazilian driver suggested that the manufacturer’s primary goal for Daytona is to learn more about the M4 at the top of the vehicle’s first full year of racing and that the RLL factory squad “have to be realistic” about the results they can achieve this weekend.
BMW put the M4 GT3 through a rigorous testing and development program that took in a wide range of circuits.
Farfus believes that work has put the car in a good place, but also views Daytona as more integral to its long-term success instead of the short-term.
“When you have run a car for a long time, you eventually end up exploring many areas in the car and get a better knowledge of what you are driving,” he told Sportscar365.
“When you have a new car, you come here and are leaning how to get the car going.
“We do this because we want to win. But we also have to be realistic. There is a maturation period where you must learn and accept things. You cannot buy experience with the car.
“With what we have today, we have to make sure that the base is right. Because with the right base, the bright future will come. It’s not about winning Daytona and then just forgetting about the rest.
“We have come with a new car and the GT3 is the base for the future, because WEC is becoming GT3 as well [in 2024]. I think it is crucial for us to just prepare.
“This is the first big race where we can measure ourselves against the others. After this race, we will be able to draw conclusions about what we have done.
“I am not concerned at all about the car. I think if we [give] time to let it grow, this car will win races.”
Farfus indicated that getting a strong base for the BMW M4 GT3 involves understanding the impacts of small setup changes that can mostly be analyzed after the end of the race.
“Here is not the place where you come and change the world,” he said.
“You will get data, learn the car, go home and then process what you have learned. Then the steps come.
“Of course, some steps can be done during the weekend. But in a weekend like this, when the track is a disaster [because of rain], there is not much you can learn.
“But after the race you can process and see what is positive, good and bad. Then, the car does a step, which is the natural evolution of a new car.
“I think what the previous [M6 GT3] model has shown, or I have learned, is that sometimes you put out a new car and you do not consider how important it is to have a solid base.
“By building a solid base setup — and you are only able to build a base at this stage — you can race the car anywhere in the world with anyone and it will be successful.”
Debut Daytona Win a “Difficult” Task
BMW won the top GT class at Daytona twice with the now-retired M8 GTE, but achieving an M4 debut win in the GTD Pro category will be a “difficult” task according to Farfus.
The RLL-run BMWs have not featured at sharp end of GTD Pro, while the cars have gone through two Balance of Performance changes since the start of the Roar Before the Rolex 24 last week.
The first adjustment was a turbo boost increase made shortly before qualifying for last Sunday’s Rolex 24 qualifying race. That was followed three days later by a reduction in rear wing angle and a 10kg weight increase.
The effects of the BoP changes have been difficult to track due to wet weather affecting the three Rolex 24 practice sessions held since the most recent IMSA update.
“I think it is a very difficult job for the series to release BoP and balance it out,” said Farfus.
“Of course, we came to the Roar and knew it would have been not ideal. But fair enough, it’s part of the game and the championship because they don’t have much information about the car.”
He continued: “Now, it’s more to showcase what we have done with the car. If you ask me, would you win the race? I think it would be difficult. Not for the car performance, but for the BoP that has been given to us. But we are going to give it our all.
“There are things out of our control, but we try to be transparent. The GTD Pro field is very strong. Let’s take this [race] and build from this. There is a long way ahead.
“We also need to improve the car in some areas, like the balance. So I think there is more to come, but so far we have been running the car pretty much trouble-free.
“If we can get to the end of the race with three M4s, then we can celebrate.”