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Farfus ‘Can Smile in the End’ Having Secured LMGT3 Podium

Augusto Farfus reflects on Team WRT’s battle to second place in LMGT3 at 24H Le Mans…

Photo: Charly Lopez/DPPI

Augusto Farfus ‘can smile in the end’ after battling through a challenging 24 Hours of Le Mans for Team WRT and securing second place in the LMGT3 class.

Farfus, sharing the No. 31 BMW M4 GT3 with Darren Leung and Sean Gelael, crossed the line a lap behind the class-winning No. 91 Manthey EMA Porsche 911 GT3 R at the end of the 92nd running of the French endurance classic.

The podium finish, BMW’s first at Le Mans since 2011, came at the end of a tough race for the German manufacturer as the sister No. 46 car crashed out overnight with Ahmad Al Harthy at the wheel while both of its Hypercars also became involved in incidents.

Farfus said afterwards that the No. 31 crew ‘maximized what it had,’ overcoming an early engine settings issue and battling through difficult conditions to end on the podium.

“If you would have asked me [Saturday] at 6 p.m. you would have had a different speech,” Farfus told Sportscar365

“I would have been like, ‘Look, if we can just survive, it would be a dream.’

“We actually did a P2 where our true pace, our true car speed was not for P2. I think we operated well.

“Once again, we showed that we are probably the best in this championship to maximize what we have. There was a bunch of cars which had a lot more pace than us and we finished second.”

Farfus took over the wheel of the No. 31 BMW from Silver-rated Gelael for the closing stint, at a time when rainfall was still a significant factor in the race.

The Brazilian admitted that, rather than taking risks in pursuit of Richard Lietz in the leading Porsche, he decided to play it safe to secure a result.

“Unfortunately, the last 30 minutes of the race, it was exactly in the wrong track condition for us,” said Farfus.

“Not having pace in our hands at that moment, I just decided to bring it home. I had to save fuel to be able to do the stint and there was nothing left, to be honest.

“If we would have just gone dry like Imola, then it would probably have been better.

“I don’t think anyhow we would have been able to chase. The top speed ahead was just a different class.

“But again, I’m very proud to be in Le Mans and give a podium to a difficult weekend for BMW.”

The podium finish for the No. 31 crew served as a rebound after a pointless weekend during the third FIA World Endurance Championship round at Spa-Francorchamps.

By finishing second, the BMW is now closely behind the pair of Manthey Porsches, which are tied on 75 points each. Farfus, Gelael and Leung, meanwhile, are two points further back in third with half the races completed.

“At the end I can smile,” Farfus said.

“I think it was a great result. Good to have this. Now we close up on the championship.

“Because we raced for Le Mans, but we raced also for the championship. And having this in our pocket is something very nice. 

“The championship is open. It’s between the two Porsches and us. Let’s keep the momentum.”

Farfus hinted that the four-hour overnight safety car for heavy rainfall also potentially hindered WRT, as it nullified a strategic decision to let Leung complete his drive time in the opening half of the race.

“We decided to sacrifice the beginning of the race for the strategy to then have a strong run in that moment,” he said.

“It would have been only me and Sean until the end of the race and we are the only team we had all the Bronze time done by 2 a.m.

“If the race would have been dry or with no safety car, we would have a massive advantage because a lot of guys had a lot of Bronze time to be used.”

Stint analysis shows that the Leung completed his mandatory six hours of driving time just after 1 a.m. with Farfus and Gelael alternating at the wheel of the No. 31 car for the rest of the contest.

This meant that while Farfus spent time in the car behind the safety car, class winners Manthey EMA had their Bronze-rated driver, Yasser Shahin, complete his driving time during that same period.

“It was a waste because I could have had a rest,” Farfus said. “We could have put the Bronze there. But I mean, how can you foresee that?”

Davey Euwema is Sportscar365's European Editor. Based in The Netherlands, Euwema covers the FIA World Endurance Championship, European Le Mans Series and Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS, among other series.

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