Filipe Albuquerque and Mathieu Jaminet viewed their dramatic late-race accident while battling for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring lead as an instance of “tough racing.”
Jaminet in the No. 6 Penske Porsche 963 was trying to keep Albuquerque’s Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport Acura ARX-06 at bay when the two GTP contenders came to blows with 20 minutes to go.
As Jaminet went to negotiate GTD Pro traffic out of Turn 1, an attacking Albuquerque ran onto the grass beside him before spinning over the Turn 3 apex and clattering the Porsche.
The accident continued when Felipe Nasr struck Albuquerque, sending his No. 7 Penske-run Porsche over the nose of teammate Jaminet’s car and briefly into the air.
The carnage enabled Action Express Racing’s Jack Aitken to assume the lead before taking Cadillac’s first win in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTP class.
“First of all, not the way we wanted to end the race,” Jaminet told Sportscar365.
“I’m really sorry to all the Porsche Penske Motorsport group and team, all Porsche family, for that ending. Luckily, I’m OK. The two Filipes are OK. That’s the most important thing.
“After that, we’re racing hard. Everybody was pretty much all-in.”
Jaminet recalled that he moved to the left of the Risi Competizione Ferrari 296 GT3 on the run to Turn 3, but he didn’t see Albuquerque’s Acura until it was too late.
“Basically the No. 10 went on the left on the grass,” said the Porsche driver.
“From what I saw on the outside camera, I moved more to the left. But the thing is I didn’t know he was there. Then I realized he was there, so I tried to move to the right.
“But he’s in the grass and then you lose control in the grass and then that caused the accident. It’s really unfortunate but I’m really sorry for the 10.
“Filipe Albuquerque, I apologized straight away coming out of the car. He directly came to apologize for his move also, trying to go on the grass.
“I believe it’s a really unfortunate racing accident. Both drivers were on the limit.”
Albuquerque said that he had been waiting for the chance to pounce on Jaminet in traffic after the No. 6 Porsche leapfrogged the No. 10 Acura at the final round of pit stops.
Jaminet and Albuquerque then overtook Aitken, who was on older Michelin tires, to set up a duel that ended up in the barriers.
“I tried to go on the outside at Turn 1 and I couldn’t really make it because I lost the front,” Albuquerque told Sportscar365.
“I was amazed that he didn’t move left, in a way. I went for it, taking a lot of risks.
“I don’t think he saw me, and he hit me once. I was a bit shaken, putting two wheels on the grass, but I could still control it. I was braking there. But then he hit me the second time. It was brutal.
“That was the moment you saw me completely into the grass. From there, I was just a passenger. I was braking, just seeing a lot of cars and closed one eye… here I come.
“I didn’t know who I was hitting. I hit him and got hit in there. The second one was pretty hard. It pushed me back again to the grass. But I think these cars are pretty safe.”
Taylor: WTR Andretti “Felt it Was Our Race”
The accident ended a strong showing for the No. 10 Acura that was seeking to give WTR Andretti team owner Wayne Taylor his first Twelve Hours of Sebring victory since 2017.
“It was a tough racing incident,” assessed Taylor. “I’m proud of Filipe, the way he drove. I’m just proud of the whole team of what they did.
“I felt we dominated the race and I felt it was our race. But so many things happen at Sebring, and this was one of those things that happened.
“Now that I’ve talked to Filipe and he had spoken to the guy in the other car, who said he basically never saw him there. It’s a racing incident.
“It looked like it was going to be easy but that’s just when you have to realize that this is a brutal sport and tonight it smacked us in the face.”
Jonathan Grace contributed to this report