Filipe Albuquerque is calling for a rethink of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship points system after being knocked out of the Prototype title chase due to a start-line crash in last month’s round at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
The No. 5 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R of Albuquerque and Joao Barbosa failed to score any points in the race due to not passing the start/finish line after being collected in a heavy, multi-car accident on the front straight just after the drop of the green flag.
Per IMSA rules, cars are only awarded points if they take the start of the race, which requires the car to physically pass the start line.
The incident, the No. 5 car’s first retirement in series history, took the Portuguese driver out of championship contention, with Albuquerque dropping from 2nd to 6th in the Prototype standings.
“With the Laguna situation, for us, it is what it is with the rules, but maybe if we could change for the future,” Albuquerque told Sportscar365.
“Once you start the race, if you crash before the start/finish line and get zero points, I just feel it’s so unlucky.
“We almost finished all the races and we were always P1 or P2 in the championship. And just because something really unlucky happened that never happened before, even to Iain [Watt, engineer], who has been doing this championship for many years, it just put us completely out of contention.”
Albuquerque now trails teammates, and championship leaders, Eric Curran and Felipe Nasr by a near-insurmountable 33 points entering this weekend’s season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans.
A total of 35 points are up for grabs in Saturday’s ten-hour enduro.
The ex-Audi LMP1 factory driver has likened the situation to last year’s Petit Le Mans, which saw a controversial late-race restart lead to a rules change for 2018.
“We all learned that we needed to do the class splits [on restarts], especially for the last runs,” Albuquerque said.
“We learned from one year ago when we had this crazy restart. I think this year it’s better when we do the class split when we restart.
“What we want is to have as many drivers as we can to fight for the championship in the last round. It would have put us in P2 or P3, still, with 19 points [earned at Laguna] for last position. And we’re talking about [missing the start line by] 100 meters.
“We would have a great and spectacular [weekend] if the 5 car would be fighting [for the championship]. That could be for any other car too [if they were in the same situation].
“We’re always learning and if we could evolve for next year, it would help.”
No. 5 Cadillac DPi to “Completely Support” Teammates in Title Pursuit
Albuquerque said he will do everything it takes to support teammates Nasr and Curran in their championship bid this weekend.
The No. 31 Cadillac pairing hold a narrow four-point lead over CORE autosport’s Colin Braun and Jon Bennett, who are coming off a string of four podium finishes, including victories at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and Road America.
Albuquerque is rejoined by Christian Fittipaldi and late addition Tristan Vautier, who subs for Barbosa due to a rib injury from the Laguna accident.
“To be honest, I’m a team player and I really think if it was the opposite, my teammates would be willing to help me,” Albuquerque said. “I’m going to completely support my teammates to get the title done.
“That’s our philosophy and we’re also going for the NAEC [title].
“The 5 car won all the editions; it’s going to be very hard to come back but we have nothing to lose and we’re going to go flat out. We’ll go for the win and see how it goes.”