Filipe Albuquerque believes the competitiveness of the DPi class has turned into a category where “anyone can win” at any given event, as he and Wayne Taylor Racing co-driver Ricky Taylor enter “enemy territory” this weekend in Detroit.
The Acura pairing head into the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic at Belle Isle with a 55-point lead over the Mazda duo of Harry Tincknell and Oliver Jarvis following their second win in three races last time out at Mid-Ohio.
Detroit, however, will present a new challenge for Albuquerque and Taylor as they tackle IMSA’s first street race in more than two years and coming in GM’s home race.
“Definitely, GM, Cadillac, it’s a very competitive car [in Detroit],” Albuquerque said. “I drove there before with that car.
“But again, as we could see this year, I think we are so close to each other that I think literally… When I say anyone can win, it’s a true story. It’s a fact.
“I remember at Mid-Ohio having [the No. 5 car] on my mirrors, which I think they finished last in and we won. So I think that’s how close we are battling nowadays, which is amazing.
“I think it’s a little bit of favoritism for the Cadillacs [in Detroit]. Obviously we have a word to say on that. We’re not going to make it easy for sure.
“[We’re] building our momentum as well, use the momentum and building from learning on the car of Acura having new ideas to make the car more faster and easier to drive with help with aids that we have during the race.
“We are just getting better. We go to Detroit to try to win, but again, if we don’t win, we will not be devastated because we are going on a good run. And we just doing our best and me and Ricky and learn from that.”
The Portuguese star will be making his first street course start with the ORECA-chassied Acura ARX-05 although he feels confident given the previous data and knowledge carried by his co-driver, who took part in the 2018 and 2019 Detroit races with Acura Team Penske.
“Knowing the Oreca, knowing that it is a car that likes the aerodynamics [a lot], the downforce and does not like to be upset,” Albuquerque explained.
“Obviously, there are these things that you normally do with street courses, which is raising the car or eventually go softer and working with the traction control.
“”All those things, I think it’s on our priority list of the checklist, I would say. But I think everyone is on that.
“Obviously me and Wayne Taylor, we are discovering that and, and Ricky is already telling us that, ‘Watch out for this because it happened as in the past.’ We should not forget as well that they qualified on pole in the past.
“For sure they have a good car there. But again, I think it’s like always, we need to trust ourselves that what we are doing is good enough.
“Otherwise we would have not won Daytona as the first appearance with the car. So we trust ourselves. And I think that’s the most reliable fact that we can have.”
Taylor on “Dropping into Enemy Territory”
While Acura won the last Detroit race held in 2019, Taylor said it hasn’t changed the objectives this weekend.
“It was great coming off of Mid-Ohio as our Acura event and getting a home win for Acura,” he said. “And now it’s the flip. We’re on the away field this weekend and dropping into the enemy territory.
“So this is the GM country and they’re going to have the Corvettes back there and Cadillacs are always strong in Detroit.
“We come into with [what] sounds big points lead, but 55 points with the new structure is really slim, especially this early in the championship.”
With IMSA’s new-for-2021 points structure awarding points for pole, Taylor said it doesn’t change their approach for this weekend, especially with the importance of qualifying at street races.
“It’s always important in Detroit, just from a strategic perspective,” he said. “So, leave the points out of it, it’s already the single most important 15 minutes of the whole weekend.
“And then the points you throw on top of that, I think it’s great because as drivers, we all love qualifying and we’d like to be rewarded for what happens in qualifying because it really it takes a lot of effort and time and work that goes into trying to make the car as fast as possible for a single lap.”