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European Le Mans Series

Farfus Looking Forward to “Challenge” of New LMP2 Role

BMW factory ace Augusto Farfus on his new driver-consultant role with BHK Motorsport…

Photo: BMW M Motorsport

Augusto Farfus says that he is looking forward to “the challenge” of making his LMP2 debut this year and simultaneously working to increase the standing of European Le Mans Series outfit BHK Motorsport.

Farfus announced last month that he will drive the BHK-run Oreca 07 Gibson in ELMS, joining the team run by former NTT IndyCar Series competitor Francesco Dracone.

The UK-registered squad, which is based near Turin in northwest Italy, has also hired Farfus as a consultant to help develop its program with LMP2 and LMP3 machinery. 

The experienced BMW factory driver explained that he and Dracone “always had a bit of contact” based on their nearby residences in Monaco and that the Italian reached out to him with the chance to work on BHK’s upcoming projects.

Dracone’s squad made its ELMS debut in 2018 with a Ligier JS P3 Nissan but expanded to LMP2 the following year and is now approaching its fourth season in the top category.

However, the team has found strong results hard to come by, with its highest finish to date of eighth coming at the final round of the 2020 season.

“Last year when we got to talk, he said that we need to change the game,” Farfus told Sportscar365.

“I said that I would be keen to come, but there are some fundamental structural changes that are important to be done. It’s a fairly new team, but what the team has achieved in recent years is far below where we want to operate.

“I can’t give all the details behind the scenes, but we are really preparing and I am helping and pushing to not do ELMS and [just] go around in circles. We want to build up the team to a good level.

“I would be mad to say that we will win the first race, but definitely the target is to change the image of this team.

“I like the challenge. For me it is also important to drive an LMP2 car, so I am looking forward to that.

“I did DTM testing in the turbo era, which went the same speed as LMP2. So that aspect is not something that concerns me. I think it is good to try different types of endurance races.”

In his new capacity as a team consultant, Farfus wants to optimize the backroom operations of BHK to ensure the team can deliver better on-track results this year.

“With my experience of all the races I’ve done and teams I’ve been with, I have a fair amount of experience and understanding on what we should focus on, and what is relevant for performance,” he said.

“I truly believe that you win races at home. You don’t win them at the track: at the track you just optimize what you have done at home.

“If you pretend and come to the track and then win the race, it might happen by luck but it will not happen often.

“That is what I’m trying to work on, connecting the right people with the right mindset. Trying to actually build something that, for Francesco, might be a step for his team.”

With a multi-race LMP2 calendar added to his program, Farfus is on course for an “extremely busy” year of racing.

The 38-year-old was recently announced to drive for BMW Team Studie in the GT300 class of Super GT and is expected to feature in other series as BMW M Motorsport supports the global rollout of its new M4 GT3 product.

There are two date clashes between ELMS and Super GT. It is understood that Farfus is set to prioritize the LMP2 drive for the first overlap based on Japan still having closed borders to non-residents.

“I am a part of the BMW project and want to support the customers with this new car,” he said.

“You have to consider that this car will not only be run by super high professional teams. There will also be smaller teams, so having help from someone with experience can be valuable for them.

“It will happen a lot this year. If all goes well, I will have over 25 race weekends.”

LMP2 Drive No Indicator of LMDH Intention

Farfus suggested that the timing of his new LMP2 role amid BMW’s development of an LMDh car for 2023 is a coincidence.

Several high-profile drivers from GT racing and other formulas are exploring LMP2 in the hope of landing manufacturer drives in the Hypercar and GTP classes.

Farfus said that he previously received approaches from LMP2 teams to do the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2018 and 2019, but on both occasions was tied to a factory GTE-Pro drive with the BMW Team MTEK squad.

“It’s not like I didn’t try to do LMP2 in the years before, but it falls in a good time,” he noted.

“It has always been difficult to find the right combination and the right team. Really it’s because a lot of the LMP2 teams need budget.

“If someone from BMW says he will be doing LMDh, he is lying because I don’t think anybody knows. Of course everybody wants to be involved. I would be lying if I would say no.

“But I don’t say that it is a deciding factor that if I do LMP2, I will do LMDh.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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