No fairy tale ending for Augusto Farfus at the Nürburgring 24 Hours

The weekend of the Nürburgring 24 Hours started pretty well for Augusto Farfus and his team mates in the number 18 Schubert Motorsport BMW M6 GT3, as the Brazilian qualified the car second on the grid, but sadly things didn’t go their way and so the car was only 120th at the end of the gruelling race.

After the good qualifying result on Friday the driver from Curitiba, who was sharing the car with Marcus Wittmann, Jörg Müller and Jesse Krohn. said: “Conditions were far from easy today, but P2 is obviously a great result. The track was still damp in some areas, so you had to be extremely careful. It’s nice that the long phase of preparations is over and that the race is now almost there. We are ready, and there’s not much more we could have done. A big 24 hours await us, and the weather will surely be a challenging factor. However, we have a strong squad and will be fully focussed.”

His comment that the weather could be a challenging factor proved prophetic, as after only 50 minutes of the 24 hour race, which started at 15.30 local time, the red flag was brought out due to hailstorms that cut across the Eifel mountains and left drivers stranded out on the 25.378 kilometre Nürburgring-Nordschleife track. It certainly earned its nickname of the “Green Hell”. At that time Jörg Müller was in the number 18 car and it was running in second. Racing action restarted just after 20.00 and it was a one-two for BMW at that time, with the number 18 car leading the number 22 ROWE Racing car with Markus Palttala at the wheel. Unfortunately on lap 17 a technical problem with the powertrain forced the Schubert car into the pits, and it was then that the mechanics produced their herculean effort and changed the engine over night.

Augusto’s comment after all these dramas was: “The biggest winners this weekend were the Schubert crew. It is a shame. We were leading the race, it was looking very good and so definitely this hurts. We got running again this morning, but by then any chances of getting a good result in the race were over for the team, despite the fact the car was running quickly. I want to say a big thanks to BMW for giving me the opportunity and to Schubert Motorsport for the amazing work done by its mechanics.”

Now Augusto heads back to the DTM and next weekend he will be racing the BMW Team MTEK BMW M4 DTM at the Lausitzring. “I have to focus on that now and go chasing the trophy in that series,” he said.

Augusto Farfus takes on the “Green Hell”

This weekend Augusto Farfus heads into his second 24-hour race of the 2016 season when he races on the “Green Hell” in the Nürburgring 24 Hours. A former winner of the iconic event, his aim is to give the new BMW M6 GT3 its first 24 hour win as well as notching up the 20th outright victory for BMW at the event.

Alongside him in the number 18 Schubert Motorsport car will be his fellow BMW DTM driver Marcus Wittmann, Jörg Müller, who was with him when he won the event in 2010, and BMW Motorsport Junior Jesse Krohn. This will not be the first time this year the Brazilian has driven on the famous 25.378 kilometre Nürburgring-Nordschleife track, as he has been part of the team contesting the VLN races there as a warm up to the big event.

He is full of enthusiasm for the track and the whole experience ahead of him: “I think it is the most exciting 24 hour race on the planet. There are a lot of cars and a lot of fans, and for us this year is special as we are going there with a brand new car. It was great that this car has already got a good result after winning the third round of the VLN in the hands of my three team-mates, and this gives us hope for a great result.”

Looking back to what happened at the race 12 months ago, he said: “It was great putting the BMW Z4 on pole last year, but I was disappointed not to have won, as I think the car was capable of that. However, I suppose in such a race to come fourth wasn’t that bad.”

The one thing that cannot be controlled in the Eifel mountains is the weather, and over the years the drivers have experienced everything from snow, to sunshine, to fog to driving rain. “Hopefully we are going to have nice weather this year, but you never know as the Nordschleife is always special and not at all predictable. The great thing is the weather never puts the thousands of fans off. They are there for the show and they want to see the cars run. It is also great to see so many BMW fans cheering us on and I hope to make them proud of us.”

The line up of BMWs this year is as strong as ever, with Schubert Motorsport, Walkenhorst Motorsport and ROWE Racing each entering two of the cars that are powered by a 4.4 litre V8 engine with M TwinPower Turbo technology in the SP9 class. The provisional entry list for the event, which can be started by up to 200 cars, includes no less than 40 BMWs.

The first opportunity for practice in the run up to the race weekend will be on Thursday (26th May) from 15.45 to 17.25, but the first major session for Augusto and his team mates will be on Friday with the Top-30 Qualifying, that they have already secured a place in. The race, which last year was run over 156 laps, will begin at 15.30 on Saturday. This will be the 44th running of the event that was first held in 1970.

Sunday race at Spielberg leaves Augusto Farfus “extremely happy”

Even if he could not repeat his podium success from the DTM season opener in Hockenheim in today’s second race in Spielberg, Augusto Farfus leaves the Austrian Red Bull Ring with a big smile on his face. The BMW Team MTEK driver finished the 60-minute race in fourth and collected 12 more points.

Like Saturday, conditions were good with bright sunshine and warm temperatures. In the qualifying in the morning, Farfus secured sixth on the grid in his Shell BMW M4 DTM. When the lights went off, he maintained this position in closely fought first corners in order to then progress forward. On lap three, he improved to fifth and shortly after, he took fourth position with a brilliant manoeuvre. When the race ended after 60 minutes, he brought this fourth place home. The top step on the podium was taken again by a fellow BMW driver: this time BMW Team RMG driver Timo Glock was victorious.

“I am extremely happy,” Augusto commented. “P6 in qualifying and P4 in the race is a good result, considering from where we were at the beginning of the weekend. We started really from the back foot and had to work a lot on the set-up. I have to say that the team did a superb job, all the MTEK boys. They enormously improved the car over the weekend and today a I quite good car. There is still room for more but we achieved our goal to score points in both races, and this is why I am satisfied. Congratulations to Timo and to BMW, it was a great weekend for the BMW M4 DTM with two victories.”

After the first four races of the season, Augusto is seventh of the championship classification with 32 points. The next round with races five and six will be held at German Lausitzring in two week’s time from 3rd to 5th June. Augusto however has no time to take a breath as he will be in action again next weekend, when he will contest the iconic 24-hour race at the Nürburgring-Nordschleife in the new BMW M6 GT3.

Saturday in Spielberg brings mixed emotions for Augusto Farfus

Augusto Farfus ended Saturday at Austria’s Spielberg track with mixed emotions. He finished the first of the two races at the Red Bull Ring, host of the second weekend of the 2016 DTM season, in ninth, adding two more points to his tally. However, the BMW Team MTEK driver aims to do much better tomorrow, as the fast and flowing circuit in the Styrian mountains proved to be a good hunting ground for BMW today. Marco Wittmann and Tom Blomqvist secured a one-two for the German manufacturer, and a total of six BMW M4 DTM cars finished in the top ten.

The day started quite late for Augusto and BMW Team MTEK. The first practice was held in the early afternoon and qualifying for race one followed at 15.25 local time. The driver from Curitiba qualified 11th on the grid in his Shell BMW M4 DTM. The race itself did not start before early evening. In conditions that were still sunny and warm, Augusto improved by two positions over the 40-minute sprint and crossed the line in ninth.

“It was not an easy day,” Augusto summarised. “At least we managed to score some points, but, when you look at the potential of the BMW M4 DTM, we could have done a better job. Having said that, I started 11th, made up positions and finished ninth, iso it is okay. But we have to find some speed in the car. We are not where we should be, so it is good to have a Sunday where we can turn the page.”

The Brazilian hopes for a repetition of the season opener two weeks ago in Hockenheim, when he was second on the podium on Sunday after a difficult Saturday. “We have a good package and I think we can squeeze a little bit more out of it and get some more points. It would be great to follow the trend of Hockenheim from a bad Saturday to a good Sunday.”

The DTM cars will be back on the 4.326 kilometre track on Sunday for a third free practice session from 10.20 to 10.50. This is followed by qualifying for race two from 12.50 to 13.10. The fourth race of the 2016 season, which is 60 minutes long, starts at 15.10.

Augusto Farfus feels confident ahead of the weekend in Spielberg

Augusto Farfus heads into the third and fourth rounds of the 2016 DTM season feeling confident of a good result in the Austrian region of Steirmark, which is the setting for the Red Bull Ring at Spielberg. This circuit, one of three on the DTM calendar that will also host a Formula One race this season, is in one of the most beautiful settings of any track in Europe.

After his podium position in race two in Hockenheim in his Shell BMW M4 DTM two weeks ago, the Brazilian driver is looking forward to what he believes could be a winning weekend in Austria: “I am really looking forward to the weekend, especially after our great result with second in Hockenheim. We are well prepared and now know when to push. I believe we can go there and aim for the maximum.”

The BMW Team MTEK driver always enjoys driving there and the picturesque setting is not lost on him either: “I think it is one of the most beautiful tracks in Europe. It is very fast and always great to be there, as it is a nice track to drive on.” However, he is hoping that the change of date might mean the weather conditions are better than in 2015. This is the earliest the race has been held there, as in 2012 and 2013 it was in June, while in 2014 it was the end of July and in 2015 the beginning of August. “The race there last year on the Sunday was particularly difficult, as the weather conditions were treacherous. After being the best BMW driver in qualifying and the race on the Saturday, Sunday was bad for all of us. However, I always look forwards and not back so am feeling positive.”

The 4.326 kilometre circuit dates back to the 1960s and so has a lot of history. It has been changed dramatically over the years and the layout now has six right hand and two left hand corners. It is a high-speed circuit with fast corners.

The schedule for the DTM cars will be FP1 from 17.00 to 17.30 on Friday (20th May). For Saturday it is FP2 from 12.40 to 13.10, Qualifying from 15.25 to 15.45 and the 40-minute race starts at 17.48. On Sunday it is FP3 from 10.20 to 10.50, Qualifying from 12.50 to 13.10 and the 60-minute race starts at 15.13.

Podium Joy for Farfus in Hockenheim.

Augusto Farfus leaves the Hockenheimring with a spring in his step, after finishing third in Sunday’s DTM race in the Upper Rhine valley. The Brazilian can also be buoyed by the news he was joined by five other BMW M4 DTMs in the top ten finishers.

It was important for the BMW Team MTEK driver to bounce back after a disastrous Saturday race, and he did just that. He qualified on the front row of the grid with his Shell BMW M4 DTM, and, despite a disappointing start and a hectic race, converted it to his first podium of the season. “I think it was good to get back on the podium,” he enthused afterwards. “Yesterday was a disaster, but today BMW managed to capitalise and get all the points we could have done today.”

Farfus was the best of the BMWs for much of the race, passing Maxime Martin on the back straight early on, then running consistently and gaining places until he found himself in second place. “Once I passed Maxime, it looked good, as we did a great pitstop and a good out lap, and from there it looked pretty good. With something like 14 laps to go, I felt the rear tyres were starting to go and I knew it would be difficult.”

He was reeled in by fellow BMW Motorsport driver Timo Glock and had to settle for third behind the German, whose car was faster as the race drew towards the end. “It’s a shame; I didn’t have the pace at the end because I lost grip at the rear. The tyre drop off was beyond what I expected, Timo had the best car today and he managed to catch me, pass me and then pull away a bit too. I always want to win every race, but if we’re looking at the championship we have to be careful, and move step-by-step. It’s a decent result for myself, for the team and for BMW Motorsport. Getting a good haul of points today was brilliant, I’m very pleased for BMW, it was a beautiful job from everyone.”

It was a story of continued improvement throughout the weekend for Farfus and the MTEK team after a torrid Saturday race saw him finish outside of the points, having qualified outside the top-ten. He never gave up, and the rewards were presented at the finish. “In today’s qualifying, even in the free practice, I could feel the car was in better shape, and we were closer to the frontrunners. Being on the front row after qualifying was great, and it gave me confidence that this could be our race.”

Augusto lies seventh in the drivers’ standings with 15 points after the first weekend of the season, the third best placed BMW driver.

The DTM circus now moves to picturesque Austria, where he and BMW Team MTEK will look to continue their season’s upward curve and begin to present a challenge in the championship. “Going to Spielberg, we have to be careful. It’s not going to be easy, but consistency is the key to a championship challenge. It’s not a particularly great track for us, but, with all these new formats, with the points changing, everything is possible.”

Augusto Farfus is robbed of his chance in race one in Hockenheim.

The result of the first race for the opening 2016 DTM weekend was not what Augusto Farfus had been hoping for when he headed to Hockenheim. After he had been pushed off the track on the first lap, the driver from Curitiba had no chance of finishing his first race for BMW Team MTEK in the points.

Despite the good conditions with bright sunshine and temperatures of 27 degrees Celsius, Augusto was not in the mood for smiling after today’s opening 40-minute sprint race. In the early afternoon, he had qualified 15th with his Shell BMW M4 DTM. “I could not put a whole lap together but I think that all BMW drivers struggled to get the maximum out of the car. I still think we had a good race car and it would have been possible to have a good race,” Augusto commented.

His chase to the front, however, ended early on lap one. Augusto was pushed into a spin. He was able to continue, but his Shell BMW M4 DTM was damaged and points were far out of reach. After 25 laps, he crossed the line in 14th. What would have been possible in this eventful race was proved by his fellow BMW drivers Bruno Spengler, António Félix da Costa and Maxime Martin who all made up numerous positions to finish well in the points. Spengler started 13th and came home in sixth, Félix da Costa and Martin had started from even further back on the grid.

“It was a shame,” Augusto said. “I had a good start and had placed myself well for the first corners. Then in turn six, I was hit by Esteban Ocon and my race was over. It’s unfortunate that the season has kicked off like this for me. The car was really good but this hit on lap one cost us the race. Looking at how crazy this race was, I could have easily been in the points – but it just did not happen. Tomorrow we have to better. It cannot get worse so let’s squeeze the maximum out of the package.”

The DTM cars will be back on the 4.574 kilometre track on Sunday for a third free practice session from 10.00 to 10:30. This is followed by qualifying for race two from 12.30 to 12.50. The second race of the 2016 season, which is 60 minutes long, starts at 14.33.

Augusto Farfus heads into new DTM season with a new team.

It may have been six months since Augusto Farfus last raced in the DTM in his number 18 Shell BMW M4 DTM, but luckily since then the Brazilian driver has spent a lot of time in racing cars. However, the first weekend of the new DTM season in Hockenheim will see a debut of kinds for him, as for the first time he will be competing with his new team BMW Team MTEK.

While Augusto has yet to race with the German team that is based in the Bavarian town of Garching, he doesn’t feel that he will take too long to get to know the crew and his new team-mate, Bruno Spengler. “I may have a new team, which is like a new family, but I know team principal Ernest Knoors and lots of the people there already from testing and just being around them over the years with BMW. Okay with any new team you there will always be different ways of working, but I don’t expect it will take that long to get used to this. However, I had some great times with BMW Team RBM over the years and want to thank Bart and the boys for that,” said the driver from Curitiba.

Looking ahead to not only the first two races over the coming weekend in Hockenheim, where the DTM season traditionally starts, but the other eight race weekends, he said: “I am obviously hoping for a better year than I had in 2015. I believe the car can be competitive and also every year I race I gain more experience. This will be my fifth season in the DTM, so that means I have learnt quite a lot. Of course, the DTM season is long and unpredictable, but I think we are well prepared.”

Augusto also feels that keeping racing, even if not in the DTM car, is important: “The more cars I drive the happier I am. It helps keep you alert and focussed and helps with preparation and motivation.” This is certainly true of his lead up to Hockenheim, as he has already driven a BMW M6 GTLM in the Daytona 24 Hours, a BMW M6 GT3 on the Nurburgring in readiness for the 24 hour race there, in the Brazilian V8 Stock Cars at his home track of Curitiba with his good friend and fellow Brazilian Rubens Barrichello, and that is apart from a lot of testing mileage in different cars.

The team is not the only thing new for Augusto in the DTM, as some of the rules have changed and the one that will affect the drivers most during the weekends is that regarding the use of the Drag Reduction System (DRS), as now it may only be used a certain number of times. In race one the drivers will be able to use 39 activations over the course of the race and in race two 57.

The schedule for the DTM cars on the 4.574 kilometre track will be FP1 from 17.00 to 17.30 on Friday (6th May). For Saturday it is FP2 from 11.20 to 11.50, Qualifying from 13.50 to 14.10 and the 40-minute race starts at 16.00. On Sunday it is FP3 from 10.00 to 10.30, Qualifying from 12.30 to 12.50 and the 60-minute race starts at 14.33.