Inside WRT’s LMGT3 Imola victory heroics
Photo: WEC

Inside WRT’s LMGT3 Imola victory heroics

The No.31 Team WRT trio of Augusto Farfus, Darren Leung and Sean Gelael perfectly judged tough conditions to take a superb first ever class win for a BMW in the WEC at the 6 Hours of Imola last Sunday.

They beat the sister No.46 Team WRT car driven Maxime Martin, Valentino Rossi and Ahmad Al Harthy after mastering the crucial phase of the race when the conditions looked bad on track but were actually still suited to slick running for the No.31 BMW M4, at that time driven by Farfus.

The experienced ace used all his racing guile to feel where the grip was on a track that was fully wet in the final sector but had elements of semi-dry grip in the first two sectors of the 4.909-kilometre circuit.

“It was very difficult as we had this on and off rain so much,” said Farfus.

“The rain was in different parts of the circuit, so it was a pretty much a guessing game on how you push and how slippery was the surface but I'm pretty confident in these kind of conditions which really like.

“The traffic is so difficult. I mean, I know how hard the guys from the Hypercars have to fight to just keep the car on track. I know through my racing in America (IMSA), when I am behind those guys these conditions were by far the worst for them because you're dealing with different tyres.

“So, we had to be a lot more patient and to build up again and eventually pass Maxine (Martin) and I pulled almost 10 seconds gap but all the cars were coming out from the pits on different tyres so it was tough.”

Farfus was able to be quicker than some of the Hypercars at certain points around the track which he used to his advantage, although it was far from easy and sometimes even caught him out.

“You have to fight them (the Hypercars) and you lose time,” added Farfus.

“I lost I think eight seconds just for having the wrong track position. But I did have a strong pace.

“In LMGT3 it shows how important the teamwork because every individual has his own task force a weekend. You can only win if every single person executed their best. Today I'm very proud to have those two gentlemen (Darren Leung and Sean Gelael) on my side team was very calm throughout the whole race.”

It was that teamwork that proved advantageous at the end of the race for the No.31 BMW M4 LMGT3, with tyre and strategy calls being made literally as cars were entering the pitlane, decisions had to be made quickly.

“It was a constant chat (on the radio) of should we go to the wet tyres and I think we we're one of the few cars on stage the whole time on slicks even when the rain picked up.

“So, Chapeau to the WRT team for the effort today.”

Farfus was able to celebrate his, BMW’s and Leung’s first WEC category wins in style as it was his son Johnny’s seventh birthday. “It couldn't be any better to have him on track and for me to look at him from the top of the podium.”

BMW and Team WRT will next be in action for the upcoming TotalEnergies 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, round three of FIA WEC (9-11 May).