SUPER GT assault with BMW was in the works for years

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The BMW factory ace was unveiled last month as a full-time Studie driver as the team gets set to embark on its first all-pro GT300 effort since the 2017 season with the new M4 GT3.

Farfus had been slated to share the Michelin-shod car with 2004 Le Mans 24 Hours winner Seiji Ara, but amid continued uncertainty with Japan’s border restrictions, Tsubasa Kondo was added by Studie as a third driver and will contest any races that Farfus cannot attend.

Speaking to Motorsport.com, Farfus explained that the idea to do a full season with Studie had existed since around the first time he raced in SUPER GT in 2014, when he contested the Suzuka 1000km race as a third driver alongside Ara and his former WTCC teammate Jorg Muller.

The Brazilian said he had stayed in close contact with Studie owner Yasuaki ‘Bob’ Suzuki, with the arrival of the M4 – in whose development he has been closely involved – providing the perfect chance for a full Japanese assault.

“I think SUPER GT is one of the nicest sportscar racing championships on the planet,” said Farfus. “I was extremely impressed the first time I raced there in 2014, about the paddock environment, the fans… I love the championship.

“With Bob, I would say that we have had the dream of doing a full season since the first time I raced there. We are friends, albeit from a distance, and we always kept in touch. Once the M4 programme came into place, that’s when he said there’s a real possibility to do it.

“My wish to do a full season was there since 2017 or ’18, but it was impossible to fit in with the rest of my schedule. Now it’s still not possible but we can at least get our foot in the championship, and maybe next year we can race from the beginning for a full season.”

As well as making three Suzuka 1000km starts, Farfus also drove the BMW M4 DTM during a special demonstration at Motegi in 2017

It’s currently unclear which races Farfus will contest in 2022, with matters complicated not only by Japan’s tough immigration rules but also the fact the Brazilian has signed up to contest the full European Le Mans Series season with BHK Motorsport.

That means Farfus will definitely miss the opening SUPER GT race at Okayama, which falls on the same weekend as the Paul Ricard ELMS curtain-raiser, as well as the August Suzuka race, which conflicts with the Barcelona ELMS round.

Farfus explained that he only took up the offer to race in the ELMS following the onset of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, which prompted Japan to close its border to newcomers again after a brief period of relaxation last autumn.

“I wasn’t originally planning to do ELMS, because I already had the deal to do SUPER GT, but when they closed the border, Bob and I set a deadline of Daytona [in late January] to make a decision about the offer to race in ELMS,” said Farfus.

“If SUPER GT was 100 percent a yes, I would refuse ELMS. If it still was 50/50, I would commit to ELMS. After talking to Bob at Daytona, I gave the green light to ELMS and decided I will squeeze in whichever SUPER GT races I can.”

He added: “It won’t be possible for me to be drivers’ champion this year, but to be part of a championship-winning campaign would be an honour. I will push to do as many races as possible in Japan.”

Farfus has been heavily involved in the M4 GT3's development, and raced the car last month at Daytona

Farfus has been heavily involved in the M4 GT3’s development, and raced the car last month at Daytona

Farfus faces potential additional clashes with the May Suzuka race, which falls on the same weekend as the Nurburgring 24 Hours, and the penultimate round at Autopolis in October, which clashes with IMSA’s Petit Le Mans finale as well as the Barcelona GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup finale.

However, he suggested that BMW may yet allow him to race in SUPER GT on those weekends “depending on how the championship situation is”.

Farfus ruled out being present for the first official pre-season test at Okayama on March 12-13, but he could potentially make the Fuji test on…

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