Filipe Albuquerque lamented the passing attempt from Ricky Taylor and subsequent contact that occurred, which cost Albuquerque and the Action Express Racing team overall victory at the 55th Rolex 24 at Daytona to Wayne Taylor Racing.
Albuquerque was defending against the sister Cadillac DPi-V.R driven by Taylor, with Taylor no closer than just over two tenths of a second behind before making the passing attempt.
As Albuquerque dove to the inside of the corner, Taylor’s right front of his car hit the left sidepod of Albuquerque’s and pitched the Portuguese driver into a spin.
That left Albuquerque needing to recover and having lost time, trying to catch it up valiantly afterwards but unable to do so for the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing entry he shared with Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa.
“It was a good fight, until I got hit, to be honest. There is not much to say,” Albuquerque said. “I had some GTs ahead of me so I could not brake so late, and I closed the door, but then I got spun. There is not much to say, and yeah, the officials took the decision. That’s what it is. We finished second.”
Taylor explained the view from his vantage point: “I was closer than I had been. He’d been struggling in Turn 1. Their car didn’t look very good there, and we were really strong on the brakes, and so I have thought about doing this for years and years, and this has always been something ‑‑ people always open up after that little kink in Turn 1, they open their hands a little bit, and it’s just so easy to release the brake there and pop in there. If you get enough alongside, you can make it work, and I think he saw me coming, he saw me committing, and like he said, I guess, he closed the door. But I think Beaux always talked about shared responsibility, and if he knew I was committing, why would you close the door and make us crash?
“But the way ‑‑ from my perspective, it’s Max’s last race. There’s a lot of emotions going on. I wanted to win terribly. We were either going to make a move and do something and win or sit there in second and wait for ‑‑ wait until next year, basically. I didn’t want to do that.”
The contact was immediately reviewed by IMSA Race Control and decided that no further action would be taken. Albuquerque said afterwards he thought Taylor left the braking point too late, but ultimately it was two cars going for one corner for the win and the Rolex watches that go with them.
“I tell you that in Tour de France, when one guy fall, they wait for the other guy,” Albuquerque said. “I probably would have done the same, like because this is a big race, right, so we need to do whatever we can and we dive in and we brake light, and he knew that it was bad on braking. He went a little bit too much away. It happens. Really it happens. And we could see, as well, I saw a picture of Wayne Taylor, the dad, like with the hands on his face because he knew that, okay.
“But if it’s a true racer, he did a mistake, just back off. Don’t leave, right. But he left, and then he controlled. It’s what it is.
“I don’t know, to be honest, a true racer in my opinion, in the end, deep inside, I would feel a little bit ashamed with the win.”
Fittipaldi was diplomatically restrained in offering his thoughts on the incident.
“It boils down to did the 10 car do an awesome job throughout the whole race? Yes, they did, because they pretty much had us covered in different conditions of track, and hats off to them,” he said. “It’s definitely going to help sell tickets for next year.
“Was it a clean pass? I don’t know. It was decided the way it was decided. I have to agree with you a little bit, like very quick without having analyzed, and to my understanding, Beau in the briefing was very clear about if you generate a problem or if you generate contact, you will probably be penalized for it. So I don’t know.”