BMW qualified a distant seventh and eighth for the opening round of the IMSA SportsCar Championship during the Roar before 24 last week, and again proved to be the slowest of the four GTP manufacturers during a trio of practice sessions at Daytona International Speedway on Thursday.

Although BMW’s decision not to prioritise pure performance has been a key factor in the Rahal Letterman Lanigan-run squad featuring near the bottom of the timesheets, the approach has led to question marks over where the M Hybrid V8 stacks up against other LMDh cars from Porsche, Acura and Cadillac.

Factory driver Farfus was not shy to admit that BMW is some way off the pace in the GTP class, but feels the Bavarian marque’s focus on reliability could pay dividends in a race that will be a major test of the new and complicated LMDh machinery.

“I think on pure pace probably we are not where we want, mainly because we didn't focus so much on pure performance runs at the moment,” Farfus, who will share the #24 car with Philipp Eng, Marco Wittmann and Colton Herta, told Autosport.

“If I'm not wrong, I think we are the car which covered the most mileage during the Roar. 

“Then in this race if you run for 24 hours trouble-free, you have a big chance to have a great result. 

“Yeah, we lack ultimate pace compared to probably Acura but this is our least amount of concern because once you start doing performance runs, I'm sure we can close the performance gap.”

Pressed further if he felt Acura was ahead of the competition in terms of outright speed, Farfus replied: “If you see how easily they put the car on pole, yes.”

#24 BMW M Team RLL BMW M Hybrid V8: Philipp Eng, Augusto Farfus, Marco Wittmann, Colton Herta

Photo by: Richard Dole / Motorsport Images

The spec hybrid system supplied by Bosch, Xtrac and Williams Advanced Engineering was a major headache for manufacturers during the testing phase and it remains unclear if some of the parts will be able to survive the full 24-hour distance.

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Farfus explained that there are still some general concerns heading into the Florida enduro and feels none of the four GTP manufacturers can claim to be fully prepared for the race.

“I think now if you ask any of the GTPs if they feel ready to race and any of them says ‘yes, we are ready’, they will be lying,” he said.

“We had so many unexpected and small issues from time to time that at the moment it's a constant learning process. I think at this stage the overall pace is the least relevant, especially for this race.

“There are so many third parties involved that a lot of things are out of our control to a certain extent. 

“We do not have enough understanding yet of the whole package to really be able to trigger [a solution].

“If you ask me what's the main concern for the race, it could be a $5 sensor or it could be the MGU, we don't know. 

“I think this race will be mainly a race where you have to bang in the laps, try to minimise the mistakes and on top try to minimise the time in the garage.” 

2023-01-27T13:17:49Z dg43tfdfdgfd