Filipe Albuquerque said he was frustrated by his near-miss in the 55th Rolex 24 at Daytona, saying he wished there would have been more sportsmanship on display in the waning minutes.
Ricky Taylor won the race for Wayne Taylor Racing with a daring, controversial move to the inside of Albuquerque’s Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R that delivered the team its long sought after second win in the endurance classic.
Taylor, driving WTR’s No. 10 Cadillac, dove for a narrow gap inside of Albuquerque’s race-leading No. 5 Cadillac at the entrance of Turn 1 with just minutes remaining in the race, only for the two to make contact fighting for the same piece of real estate.
Albuquerque got the worst of the contact, spinning wide in the turn while Taylor continued on.
The contact was reviewed by race control and no action was taken, leaving Taylor in position to claim his first Rolex 24 win along with co-drivers Jordan Taylor, Jeff Gordon, and Max Angelelli.
Understandably, given everything was at stake, the pair of drivers offered somewhat differing accounts of the event in the post-race press conference.
“It was a good fight until I got hit,” Albuquerque said. “To be honest, there wasn’t that much to say.
“There were some GTs in front 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. The officials took the decision. It is what it is, and I finished second.”
Taylor defended his actions, and added that he had long been contemplating such a maneuver should the situation merit it.
“I had been working on it for a while… analyzing where we were strong and where we weren’t strong,” Ricky Taylor said. “I mean, it’s the 24. Everybody’s going to take a risk.
“The way I saw it, we were coming through GT traffic, we were closing on him. He’d been struggling in Turn 1. His car didn’t look very good there. We were really strong on the brakes.
“I have thought about doing this for years and years. People always open up after that little kink in Turn 1. They always open up their hands a little bit, and it’s just so easy there to release the brake and pop it in there.
“If you get enough alongside, you can make it work. I think he saw me coming, he saw me committing, and like he said, he closed the door.”
Albuquerque drew a comparison to cycling when asked how he would have handled the closing moments of the race had the shoe been on the other foot.
“In Tour de France, when one guy falls, they wait for the other guy,” said the Portuguese ace. “I probably would have done the same, because this is a big race, right?
“We need to do whatever we can: we dive in, we brake late, we knew that he as better under braking. It happens, it really happens.
“But if it’s a true racer, he made a mistake, just back off. Don’t leave, right? But he left. It’s what it is. To be honest, a true racer in my opinion, deep inside I would feel a little ashamed with the win.”
For Taylor, who had finished second twice without winning the Rolex 24 before Sunday’s breakthrough, finishing in second place again was not going to be an option.
“From my perspective, it was Max’s last race, there were a lot of emotions going on,” he said. “I wanted to win terribly.
“We were either going to make a move, do something, and win, or we were going to sit there in second and wait for next year. I didn’t want to do that.”