24 Hours of Le Mans – Augusto Farfus, a new life with Aston Martin
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24 Hours of Le Mans – Augusto Farfus, a new life with Aston Martin

Ten years after his first 24 Hours of Le Mans, Augusto Farfus is starting a new chapter in his career. After a long run with BMW, he has joined Aston Martin in the LMGTE Am class.

In 2010, Augusto Farfus took the start in his rookie 24 Hours as a factory driver with BMW for its return to Le Mans. He secured his best result at the race with a sixth place finish in his class at the wheel of an M2 GT2. After a retirement in 2011, he was back at the 24 Hours in 2018 and 2019 with the Bavarian constructor. This year, he has joined Aston Martin and teamed up with gentleman-driver Paul Dalla Lana, a top contender in the LMGTE Am class, and British driver Ross Gunn.

Auto racing, endurance and Brazil: "I won the Nürburgring 24 Hours in 2010 and I think these kind of high-profile wins show Brazilian fans that there is more than just Formula 1. We've shown these Senna fans that you can be a professional driver and also not be in an F1 car. And this is a little bit what I did after I went to Alfa Romeo in 2004 – I was on the path to F1 and I dropped it all to go to touring cars and that shocked people in Brazil. But other disciplines are just getting bigger and bigger. I've now been with a manufacturer for the last 15 years – it shows how important all racing is to the brands. It's important for me to show Brazilians that there are lots of categories and the media do highlight all successful drivers now – whether it's Ruben Barrichello, Felipe Nasr, Lucas di Grassi, Pipo Derani, myself or many others. For me, this is incredible."

Memories of Le Mans: "Le Mans is a unique race, I think it is one of the most traditional races in motorsport, yet you never really know what to expect. Le Mans is a shock when you do the first one. You get there and then you realise what Le Mans really means. For me, when I first arrived, with this big BMW project, it was shocking because you quickly realise that Le Mans is not only about the Le Mans race. It's about conserving your energy for the whole week. Le Mans actually starts on the Sunday before. You have so many commitments, sessions, meetings. It is a very long week and that for me was the most difficult thing for me at my first Le Mans. You need to have enough energy left for the end of the race on Sunday because that's when you need it the most."

From BMW to Aston Martin: "Well, it is the first time I have ever driven for a British team. It is impossible to compare – Aston is as important in motorsport history as BMW is, but their approaches are very different – one is not better than the other and I am learning a lot. I'm very thankful to BMW for allowing me to have this experience. I've never before actually driven, in my life, a GT car that is not a BMW. Driving other cars makes you more complete, it allows you to grow as a driver, it makes you better. If you see the field of the LMGTE Am cars I think that is going to be the class of the race. There are almost 20 cars racing so, of course, it is going to be an intense race. And Le Mans this year is going to feel like the longest Le Mans ever – we're going to have a very long night – so this will have an impact on the racing. But honestly, I think right now it's impossible to bet on a line-up. I feel our line-up is one of the strongest, but you see the other line-ups and they are strong too. If I have to vote for a car…it would be ours, car #98! It's a different car than what I'm used to, in all aspects. This doesn't mean it's better or worse. I take this opportunity to grow as a driver. It is actually the first time in my life I have driven in a Pro-Am class. I watched 'The Gentlemen Driver' on Netflix and that was extremely eye-opening for me. For me, as a professional, I get in a car and push fast, it is the most natural thing on the planet, and I live for it every day. But, for a driver like Paul, they have a successful business, he's working hard focusing on that and when he gets to Tuesday of Le Mans week, he becomes a racing driver again. I'm learning a different kind of motorsport and it's good for me because the Pro-Am classes are becoming more important and I am learning a respect for that. I'm learning what it means to be a gentlemen-driver, what motivates them and how they see the race. Yes, Paul will learn from me, but I am asking myself, what can I learn from Paul? For me, this is a very important learning process."

Paul Dalla Lana, a gentleman-driver for a teammate: "Paul is an old-time friend – he comes from the same town as me, Curitiba. We actually have a lot of common friends in that town. In fact, I was at the playground playing with my daughter and I was talking to a neighbour who said she had a very good friend who is a Canadian racing driver – I thought she might say Bruno Spengler or someone, but I never expected Paul Dalla Lana! I said you must be kidding! So, that's how it happened with Paul. We always wanted to race together, he knows I'm experienced at Le Mans, so we took this rare opportunity to make it happen."

 

PHOTO: LE MANS (SARTHE, FRANCE), CIRCUIT DES 24 HEURES, 24 HOURS OF LE MANS, FREE PRACTICE, 17 SEPTEMBER 2020. With Bruno Senna, André Negrão, Daniel Serra, Felipe Fraga and Pipo Derani, Augusto Farfus is writing a new endurance racing chapter in the history of Brazilian auto racing.