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Nürburgring Endurance

Farfus Downplays BMW Favorite Role

BMW veteran thinks M4 GT3 might not be the car to beat in its first N24 appearance…

Photo: GruppeC Photography

Augusto Farfus has downplayed suggestions that the BMW squads are favorites for victory heading into the Nürburgring 24, even though ROWE Racing largely headlined qualifying and only missed out on pole thanks to an upset result by Octane126’s Luca Ludwig.

Farfus qualified second overall in Friday evening’s second Top Qualifying session, with his No. 99 BMW M4 GT3 losing out to Ludwig’s No. 26 Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo by 1.1 seconds.

It came after the MCG-run ROWE squad sat at the top of the leaderboards throughout the three regular qualifying sessions on Thursday and Friday.

Additionally, Sheldon van der Linde topped the first Top Qualifying session in the sister No. 98 BMW by 1.3 seconds over GetSpeed Mercedes-AMG driver Maro Engel.

Despite the strong pace the M4 has shown in the opening days of the weekend, Farfus reckoned it was not right to label BMW as the favorite as the Brazilian believed a large number of GT3 cars hold a realistic shot at victory.

The BMWs have also been handed a Balance of Performance change on Saturday morning and will be running an additional 10 kilograms heavier with less boost pressure at the lower RPM range.

“I think there are twenty favorites,” Farfus told Sportscar365.

“Even more, because the Schubert Motorsport car did not get into the top 20 and the Manthey car starts at the back.

“So to be honest, all the GT3s you have here, and having the Ferrari on pole shows that you can not write anyone off.

“The race is going to be very fast. We have only [129] cars, which is not a lot, so it is going to be a long sprint race.

“We have to keep our head down, do the job and try to be calm throughout the 24 hours.”

Staff from rival manufacturer squads, like GetSpeed Performance’s Adam Osieka, reckon that it is not unreasonable to say that BMW will have the fastest car during the race – even though predictions are difficult.

GetSpeed’s top car, the No. 4 Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo driven by Maro Engel, Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella, ended Top Qualifying 2 in 12th place.

“It is very difficult to say,” Osieka told Sportscar365. “You can see in all the sessions before that BMW is very, very fast.

“Porsche is on the same level with Mercedes and maybe Audi [is] a bit faster, but difficult to say.

“But in the previous races the Audi was very fast. Then they got ten kilos and a smaller restrictor and became seven seconds slower so it can’t be as well.

“So difficult to say but what you can see in all the sector times is that BMW is the fastest car now.”

However, the GetSpeed team principal also anticipates that BMW could hit trouble with its brand new car, which has not contested the N24 before.

“For sure it is a new car so there is for sure something in the car that will not work for 24 hours,” Osieka said of the M4 GT3.

“Mercedes is for sure the car with the most experience on this track, Audi as well.

“Porsche knows what to do as well so it will be a tough and tight challenge.”

Farfus struck a similar tone when asked about potential reliability concerns, admitting that BMW is heading into something of an unknown.

“In the last NLS race we retired the car with a little technical issue,” the Brazilian said.

“The problem is that this track is so specific that you have to do one 24-hour race to really understand what can happen.

“So we have to go to a race here, hopefully we can get to the end of the race with seven BMWs running trouble-free to understand what can happen.

“The longest race we did here was six hours, which was split in two.

“I’m convinced BMW did an incredible job. I think the work and the commitment to this project was very impressive.

“So I can’t wait to do the race and hope for a great result on Sunday.” 

Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report

Davey Euwema is a Sportscar365 reporter based in The Netherlands, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, DTM, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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