The iconic “Mount Panorama Circuit” in Australian Bathurst marked the second stop of Augusto Farfus’ tour around the world. Just one week after completing the race debut of the new BMW M8 GTE at the 24 Hours Daytona in Florida, USA, he was in action with BMW Team Schnitzer and the BMW M6 GTE at the Bathurst 12Hour endurance race. The driver from Curitiba shared duties with his BMW DTM team-mate Marco Wittmann and local hero Chaz Mostert. It was Augusto’s first appearance at this legendary track – and it was love at first sight.
The “Mount Panorama Circuit” is located about 200 kilometres west of Sydney and is 6.213 kilometres long. The drivers must cope with 16 percent climbs in places, tight and twisty down-hill corners and walls that excuse no mistake. For most of the drivers, Bathurst is one of the greatest circuits in the world. “It is just fantastic. I’ve heard a lot about Mount Panorama before, and I have to admit: this track is really such so much fun,” Augusto agreed.
To get to grips with this challenging circuit was no problem for Bathurst “rookie” Augusto. Already in the second free practice, he set the fastest time in the BMW Team Schnitzer BMW M6 GT3 – topping the time sheets in front of all other, Bathurst experienced drivers. This continued: Augusto and his team-mates were within the top 3 in all sessions – and in the top 10 qualifying shootout on Saturday afternoon, Mostert raced the BMW M6 GT3 to pole position with a stunning lap under the magic 2:02 minute barrier. Celebrations were high within the Bavarian team that was successful in Bathurst already in the 1980s and now had returned to this iconic race.
“What a lap by Chaz. We had the best guy behind the wheel for the shootout, he did an awesome job. We’ve been working together really well all weekend, and I’m looking forward to pushing hard tomorrow,” Augusto enthused his team took the pole position.
The 12-hour classic began at 05:45 in the morning and got off to a brilliant start: Augusto’s team-mate Mostert did the opening stint in the number 43 BMW M6 GT3 and began to open up a lead at the front of the field. However, a host of safety car periods then meant that the Schnitzer drivers were unable to take advantage of the morning’s good conditions for the BMW M6 GT3. There have been no less than nine safety car periods in the first six hours of the race. The field stayed so close together that a pit stop resulted in a loss of positions and then being stuck in traffic as overtaking is not the easiest task at Mount Panorama. Augusto had to experience this when trying to get past a slower car that blocked him for several laps.
As the race progressed, the trio dropped back, also because of a drive-through penalty Wittmann had to come in for. However, they did manage to work their way back towards the front in the closing stages, and set their sights on the podium again. But unfortunately, after nine and a half hours, came the retirement for them. Running fourth at the time, Mostert, embroiled in a battle for position with several other cars, was involved in a collision. While he was able to return to the pits, the car was too seriously damaged to continue.
“Chaz did an amazing opening stint but we couldn’t get clear in the first part of the race. That put us on the back foot, also with the drive-through penalty,” Augusto reported. “Then we had to take some risks and attack to fight our way back towards the front. It is a shame because we had a fast and competitive package and we go home with nothing. But it is part of the game. Overall it was a pleasure and an honour to be here, to learn from Chaz here in Australia, to work with BMW Team Schnitzer again and with Marco. And I am sure better days will come.”
Augusto is now returning home from Australia and will continue to prepare for his busy racing season competing with BMW in the DTM and the FIA World Endurance Championship WEC.