Filipe Albuquerque

Watkins Glen International


01 – 02 July

Watkins Glen International

IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship

Wayne Taylor Racing

3rd Place

Between the previous race and this one, the entire team stayed at Watkins Glen, at the same hotel. We usually stay in Corning, a small village 20 minutes from the track. On those days, me and the team, we did a bit of teambuilding and went to a lake to surf. It was a day well spent, it’s always fun to be together and do different activities, outside of racing. The atmosphere in the team is good. I also spent time with Ricky, we went running and we were always thinking about how we could be faster. Alex had to leave, he had a race in Indycar.

Maybe it’s a driver’s thing, we are always motivated because we always find the smallest detail to be able to make a difference. This time we knew that we had taken pole position and that we had a problem with the car, so we could improve for this race. But  we also knew that our opponents would improve their cars, that’s how it works for everyone.

The first and only one-hour session should have been used to experiment with settings in the car, but it was chaotic because it rained a lot and we had to go with wet tires. I adapt well in the rain, I always drive well in the rain, I have no problems but of course there is more risk, more unforeseen events and when we have a car that is very fast in dry conditions and we are leading the championship, we want to reduce the unforeseen events – but this is beyond our control. We prefer dry tracks, no yellow flags and the most monotonous race possible because that way we just depend on our pace. When we have a slower car, we are at the bottom of the pack and have little to lose. These conditions are ideal for any driver because we can take risks because we trust that things can turn at that time. We are more open to risk to gain positions.

Ricky qualified again, took pole position, now 4 tenths of a second ahead of the 2nd place, we were all happy with that lap and with our pace, it was a good start for this Watkins Glen 240 sprint race.

The race started dry but it had just rained and dried, the weather was very unstable. Ricky started first, got off to a good start, led his stint, although with the Mazda coming from 6th on the grid to 2nd, completely glued to our rear, it was on very good pace. We changed drivers, I got in and I had some fights with the 31, which was in a completely different strategy from everyone else, and also with the Mazda, which was very competitive and which ended up passing me. So far so good but it started to rain a lot in half of the track and the race direction decided to put a yellow flag and then a red flag for half an hour due to weather forecasts that pointed to a strong thunderstorm.

We returned to the track with 4 very wet corners and the rest dry. There was a pit stop where I was third, they opened the pits for a last yellow flag stop and where the 31, despite being 5th, was ahead because it had stopped two laps before the red flag happened. I returned to the track in third, behind the 31 and the Mazda. Luckily the Mazda spun at turn 8 and dropped to fifth. In the first restart I kept my second place, but soon after, not one lap later, another yellow flag came and in that restart I lost a position to car 5 in turn 1 because I had a moment and I didn’t get out of the corner well and he passed me. Those first laps were very difficult for me and for everyone because three corners were very wet and we had to manage the risk of going fast but not crashing. Since Mazda was last or second to last, I couldn’t risk too much because I was already thinking about the championship points.

I had no pace  for the Cadillacs, which made the task more difficult, but I survived, that’s what they say in these conditions.  Once I had the car back in a good working window, I started attacking forward. Despite dropping to 4th place, I still managed to regain one position and ended up in 3rd, ahead of the Mazda.

The outcome of these two races in Watkins Glen is positive since our car scored the most points over these two weekends. Even though we had two pole positions we wanted to win races which didn’t happen but we will work hard to change this trend and to come back stronger. It’s always important to emphasize that even though we are leading the championship and even though we won Daytona, we continue to learn about the car and how it performs on different tracks. It’s been a joint work with Ricky Taylor, Brian Pillar and the whole Wayne Taylor crew, it’s been an interesting process, it’s great to work with them, each one of us with our own ideas about how we can be faster or where we should invest more. That’s what challenges us, to see how we can reach the maximum potential of the car we have.

I don’t feel frustrated with these results, I just interpret them as a learning phase of a new car. It is very important to remember that we already won the most important race of the year, Daytona, that victory alone marks a great year. As we are ambitious, we want to win everything and we always work towards that goal.

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