DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – While answering a question last week about his history with Action Express Racing, Filipe Albuquerque was interrupted by current teammate Ricky Taylor.
“He’s not allowed to go back,” Taylor joked.
Albuquerque, now with Wayne Taylor Racing and battling Action Express for the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship title, holds something unusual and valuable: behind-the-scenes insight of both teams.
“I have the full picture of the two main rivals – how each one of them thinks – which is great,” Albuquerque said. “It helps us already, a little bit. I know how they think, and I know how both teams operate.”
Last year, Albuquerque served as an endurance specialist on the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R operated by Action Express. Now, teamed with Taylor and Alexander Rossi in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-05, Albuquerque is a key player in Wayne Taylor Racing’s attempt to win the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) class championship in the season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta on Nov. 13.
Knowing the tendencies of strategy and setup – along with the driving styles – of his former teammates can be beneficial.
“It helped a little bit through the year,” Albuquerque said. “But coming here, everyone has been really welcoming. Ricky has helped me get up to speed and learn the car as fast as I could.”
Last year, Albuquerque helped out No. 31 co-drivers Pipo Derani and Felipe Nasr in three WeatherTech Championship races, including a fifth-place finish at Motul Petit Le Mans. As the final race of the year approaches, Derani and Nasr trail Albuquerque and Taylor by 19 points in the driver standings. It’s likely that the car that finishes better in the 10-hour race wins the championship.
The rivalry between the two teams goes back, with some unusual bullet points. In 2017, Ricky Taylor collided with Albuquerque, then in the No. 5 Action Express car, while racing for the lead with eight minutes left In the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Albuquerque spun, returned to the track and tried to chase down Taylor, eventually finishing .671 seconds behind the No. 10.
Last year at Motul Petit Le Mans, Taylor and Derani collided while battling for the win with just over 10 minutes remaining. That led to a post-race confrontation between Taylor and Derani, Albuquerque’s teammate at the time.
“Rivalry is always good for the sport,” Derani said. “When you can create a rivalry over the years, that generates more interest in the sport, which is always fantastic. That’s what we want. We want to attract as many fans as we can for the championship.”
Names may change over the years, but the rivalry remains.
“You win with a group of people,” Albuquerque said. “People win the race, not the machine. … Chemistry between people either comes along, or it does not happen.”
Activities surrounding Motul Petit Le Mans begin Nov. 10 and conclude Nov. 13 with the 10-hour race around Michelin Raceway’s 12-turn, 2.54-mile circuit. Tickets are available now at roadatlanta.com.
Live coverage begins at noon Eastern Standard Time on NBC before moving to NBCSN at 3 p.m. through the race’s conclusion. Nonstop coverage is also available on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold and IMSA Radio.