Filipe Albuquerque says the Cadillac DPi-V.Rs are “a little bit behind” in terms of single-lap pace but believes they can still be a part of the victory hunt for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
The defending race winner told Sportscar365 that he’s confident in the Cadillac DPi’s reliability and tire life, however the package has been struggling in the banked oval sections of the Florida speedway.
Yesterday, Team Joest took pole for the 57th Rolex 24 with a record-breaking lap from Oliver Jarvis, while the Penske-run Acura ARX-05s qualified second and third with the best Cadillac running seven-tenths off the pace.
“From what I’m seeing, I don’t think we have the pure pace for the Mazdas and Acuras, we are a little bit behind,” said Albuquerque.
“We know that we may come a little bit back in the race knowing that we have a better car to race than [on a] pure single lap.
“But with all the straights [in] the last sector we notice them pull away. In the last sector it is about two to three tenths and there is just nothing you can do about that.
“So we’re a little bit concerned about that, but we can’t do anything about it. We need to be the best Cadillac and then we’ll see where we are.
“I know we will be competitive because we have a great car in terms of reliability, car balance and tire life, but would say I’m a little bit concerned about the Acuras, because they were very quick.
“They only pushed in qualifying, and the rest of the time they were always beyond P5 or something.”
Fellow Action Express driver Pipo Derani, who is making his Cadillac debut this weekend, suggested that Acura DPi will head into the Rolex 24 as the pre-race favorite.
“When you see how many wins they’ve got, everybody thinks Cadillac is the favorite – I don’t think we’re coming here as the favorites ourselves,” Derani told Sportscar365.
“The guys who qualified up front, especially Acura, they have one year under their belts and they’ve learned from last year, so I think they would be the favorites this time.
“The Mazdas are super quick but is that car really reliable? We’re not sure. We hope it is, because then it’s a good fight if all of the manufacturers are there.
“The big favorites here are definitely Acura. It’s a race for them to lose and not for us to win.”
Albuquerque Explains Qualifying No-Show
Jammed brakes resulted in repairs which prevented the No. 5 Mustang Sampling entry from completing a lap in qualifying.
Albuquerque explained that he felt the brakes seize up shortly after setting out for his first flying lap, and ultimately failed to set a time.
“Everything felt normal but then I could not up-shift to sixth gear and I thought there were some problems in the engine,” he said.
“Then in the pit lane, it misfired. But when I was stopping, it didn’t roll to the pits. It just stopped straight away.
“After a while once they had cooled down, it happened again. That was super weird. It never happened to us before.
“We just changed everything just in case and since then the car is rolling like before.”
Albuquerque is sharing the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac with Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi only this weekend after Mike Conway was ruled out due to travel issues.