Augusto Farfus’ 2019 racing season has started with a fantastic but also very emotional victory: the win at the 24 Hours at Daytona. Together with Connor De Phillippi, Philipp Eng and Colton Herta he won the GTLM class in the #25 BMW Team RLL BMW M8 GTE. It was Farfus’ fifth appearance at the endurance classic in Florida, and with a stunning performance he paid major contribution to this great success.
Farfus got a last minute call to join the team at Daytona, as regular driver Tom Blomqvist experienced issues with visa delays. However, the race weekend began with a shock for the driver from Curitiba. On Thursday, his close friend and former team principal of BMW Team Schnitzer, Charly Lamm, unexpectedly passed away. Since 2007 they have been successful together in touring car and GT racing, and only two months ago they had celebrated victory in the FIA GT World Cup at Macau together.
For Farfus it was clear: “At Daytona, I race for Charly.”
And so he did. The #25 BMW crew started the 24-hour race from eighth on the grid but moved towards the front within the opening hours. While the first half of the race was held in dry conditions, the weather changed dramatically in the morning hours. Torrential rain and standing water on the track caused a red flag. After the re-start, Augusto continued his committed chase for the lead, exciting the entire BMW Team RLL team and BMW M Motorsport with an outstanding performance in his long stint of several hours. Around lunchtime, he took the lead, overtaking the leading Ferrari with a stunning and brave manoeuvre – before the red flag came out again as the rain worsened.
From then on, it was a waiting game. Conditions did not improve and the clock was ticking towards the 24-hour mark. Everyone was waiting for the race director to decide if the race would be continued or declared finished when at around 10 minutes before the 24 hours where over, the decision was made that there would be no more racing. Farfus and his team had just won the 24 Hours at Daytona. Celebrations were high in the pits after this triumph, and there have been many tears of joy but also of emotions and memories.
“It feels magical. This victory has a very special meaning for me,” Farfus commented after the race, visibly moved. “I lost a very close friend a few days ago, and I did it for him. I am sure that Charly guided me through this. Finally we got the win, and this was maybe one of the hardest 24-hour races I have ever done. The conditions were very difficult; it was extremely wet, but I knew that I have to take the lead, and I gave it my all. We had a special co-driver today, and I want to dedicate this victory to Charly. I am sure that he is proud of what his son has done. We will celebrate tonight because we know that Charly would be the first one to celebrate.”
“A big thank you to BMW and BMW Team RLL for giving us such a great car,” Farfus continued. “They did an awesome job – we where a strong bunch of drivers, but they only can succeed with a strong car and team. And this is what we had.”
There is only a short break for Farfus now as he will head straight to Bathurst in Australia where he will contest the 12-hours race with BMW Team Schnitzer this coming weekend.