This was a very important and exciting weekend in Florida for both Augusto Farfus and BMW Motorsport, as it was the racing debut of the new BMW M6 GTLM that the German manufacturer will be racing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. A 24-hour race is the ultimate test for any racing car, but when it is brand new then this is even more of a baptism of fire. However, Augusto with his BMW Team RLL team-mates, Bill Auberlen (US), Bruno Spengler (CA) and Dirk Werner (DE), passed the test with flying colours and brought the car home fifth in the class.
It was also special because this race kicked off the 100th anniversary for BMW, and so the two cars the team entered had special liveries that were unveiled on the eve of the race at the Daytona International Speedway in Florida. Augusto was in the number 25 car and its livery reflects four icons from throughout the history of BMW Motorsport. The first car was the famous number 25 BMW 3.0 CSL that gave BMW its first major US race win at the 12 Hours of Sebring (US) in 1975. The second is an image of the BMW M1 from 1980 and 1981. In addition to a successful racing history, the BMW M1 is significant as the first of the sports cars developed independently by BMW Motorsport GmbH. The third is an image of the successful BMW V12 LMR that won the endurance classics in Le Mans and Sebring in 1999. The BMW V12 LMR was without a doubt one of the most advanced sport prototype race cars of its day. Finally, the fourth car depicted is the BMW M3 GT from the 2011-12 seasons, which won every possible title in its class in the 2011 American Le Mans Series (ALMS).
Unfortunately the number 100 sister car of John Edwards (US), Lucas Luhr (DE), Graham Rahal (US) and Kuno Wittmer (CA), that also had a great new livery, retired during the night when Lucas was at the wheel. The car went off at the first turn and hit the wall. The damaged car was not able to be repaired after what was a suspected brake disc failure. Its livery features a striking lattice design. It creates a new type of 3D effect with reflective vinyl applied to the white body. Both cars will carry the commemorative liveries throughout the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
After the race the Brazilian said: “This was a great weekend from the beginning to the end. We finished the very tough race in fourth, which was great for a completely new car. All 24 hours were full of action and the concentration needed for every stint was incredible. I have always loved this race and this year was no exception. The icing on the cake was the fantastic livery and I was very proud to be part of the team that raced this for the first time.”
The number 25 car was qualified by Dirk in the most atrocious weather conditions with torrential rain and standing water that send many cars aquaplaning off the track. The 15-minute session for the GTLM class was red flagged for 12 minutes and when it was finally over their car was sixth on the grid. Grid was the starting driver and it was not until the track was in darkness that Augusto got his first stint. He had an important job to do, as he explained: “When I took it over it was a lap down as during Bill’s stint a tyre had been cut and we lost time. I not only managed to get it back onto the lead lap, but I was also able to put it in the lead. This was special to be the first driver ever to lead a race in this brand new car.”
The team managed to keep up with the leading pack and when the chequered flag came out at 14.40 on Sunday afternoon Augusto was at the wheel to claim fifth in class. His comment was: “I was very excited coming to this race as I had seen at the Roar what the new car could do. I felt it would be a fantastic race car for Daytona and that proved to be the case. I was also very happy to be the driver to bring the car across the finish line. To finish a 24-hour race in a brand new car with no major technical problems is a great achievement in itself. I had some very intense stints and the one early in the morning was like a double qualifying when I was trying to hang in there with the Porsches and Corvettes.”