Throughout the year, Continental Tire will focus on celebrating the fans, media, drivers, and teams and their contributions to sports car racing, including a weekly trip down memory lane in Sportscar365’s Continental Tire IMSA Reflections series.
This week’s IMSA Reflection comes from Action Express Racing driver Filipe Albuquerque. The Portuguese ace looks back on his Rolex 24 at Daytona debut, class win in an Alex Job Racing Audi R8 LMS in 2013, and how that race has propelled his IMSA career as he embarks on his first full-season campaign.
What are your memories of your 2013 class win at the Rolex 24 at Daytona?
“It was great, especially because that year the call for the strategy for the race we decided to keep me going on with the same tires and do just a splash and dash while my teammates from Audi took on new rubber.
“They were far off, but they were catching me like hell. My tires held on and got me the win, which was perfect.
“I have a sweet memory from that and I’ll never forget it because I won by just one second.”
What does it say about the Continental tires that you were able to successfully employ that strategy?
“We knew we could do it easily, two stints with the tires, because it was holding even if it was hot.
“We aimed for it not really considering if the tires were an option or not because we were taking care of the strategy, so we went for it.
“Obviously I could not fight with the same tools as the other guys because they had new rubber and were faster, but my strategy was the best at the end.”
How have your past experiences in IMSA prepared you for this season?
“I think I’m prepared as I could be. I’ve now now done two seasons with Joao [Barbosa] and Christian [Fittipaldi].
“I don’t know all the tracks, that’s a fact, but I know the team now and I know the car now.
“We won [the North American Endurance Cup] last year, and whenever I was in the car I was very comfortable, very strong, competitive compared to the other guys so I think it was logical as well.
“It was not a leap of faith for the team because they know what to expect from me and I just hope to keep working hard and meet the expectations of the team and basically to continue to do the same work that I did in the last year. That’s my plan for 2018.”
It may not have been a leap of faith for the team, but how about for you coming to a new championship on a full-time basis?
“Since my first time in America, I’ve always enjoyed racing here. At first I said to myself: I always want to do Daytona. And then the more I did, the more I enjoyed.
“The championship was growing up and just to get in, it is not easy because there are a lot of good drivers around. Now I got in and it’s a very exciting season now.
“I’m excited to do it because I know that I’m going to have fun. I’ve heard from other drivers that you have a lot of fun driving in America because the tracks are unique.
“They have a lot of character. It’s super different from Europe. I can’t wait to meet all these tracks and get myself out of my comfort zone which is tracks in Europe, because I’m already used to it.
“I’m really looking forward to it and I hope that I can meet expectations on these new tracks and for Action Express which is a team that is expected to win.”