Albuquerque’s Risk Rewarded With A Win At Road America

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. — Filipe Albuquerque saw an opening and went for it. His reward for the risk was victory Sunday and a renewed shot at the championship.

Albuquerque took the lead of the IMSA Fastlane SportsCar Weekend at Road America with help from a lapped car with 24 minutes left in the two-hour, 40-minute race and went on to hold the lead to the finish.

The victory pushed Albuquerque and co-driver Ricky Taylor into the lead for the championship in the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) class and turned the season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans into a race for the title between two Acura teams.

“It feels good, but it never lasts long,” Taylor said. “What we’ve learned this year is, if you have the points lead, you’re not safe. Every time we get it, it goes the other way again. It’s flip-flopped I don’t know how many times.”

It flip-flopped again when Albuquerque used traffic to pass Oliver Jarvis, who had been leading the race and the DPi standings to that point. Albuquerque pitched the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-05 around a Grand Touring Daytona (GTD) car driven by Ryan Eversley and past the No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing Acura ARX-05 that Jarvis co-drives with Tom Blomqvist. 

“I timed it perfectly and took a lot of risks going to the left with half the car on the grass,” Albuquerque said. “Then it was done. It was chaotic.”

With six-and-a-half minutes left, Jarvis crashed on the exit of Turn 10. He kept the car moving during the ensuing caution period, finishing fourth but losing the points lead to the No. 10 car. Albuquerque and Taylor will now take a 19-point lead going into Motul Petit Le Mans on Oct. 1.

Taylor found himself in a tricky situation during his first stint, as rain began to fall while he was on slicks. He managed to get the car back to the pits by lap 30, but the lead was gone and he had fallen back to eighth overall.

“I was just trying to survive,” Taylor said. “Honestly, I didn’t know if I was doing a very good job. I just saw that the guys on wets were gone. They asked what we wanted to do on the next stop and I said, ‘Put Filipe in.’”

Albuquerque began picking off one car after another, reaching fourth place by lap 36 and then second by lap 47.

“We had more to lose,” Albuquerque said. “We had to stay ahead of the Shank car, and they were on rain tires and about a minute ahead of us. I was so desperate and angry about the situation because I could see us not winning it. Then it came around to us and we were back in the game.”

After Jarvis’ crash, the field stayed under caution to the finish and Wayne Taylor Racing had its first victory at Road America and fourth win of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.

Earl Bamber finished second in the No. 02 Cadillac Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R he shares with Alex Lynn, while the No. 01 Cadillac Racing sister car co-driven by Sebastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande finished third.  

But the victory by the No. 10 Acura — and the return to the lead of the championship — was all about Albuquerque.

“If you give him the car in position, he’s going to go win it and he did,” Taylor said. “We’re getting spoiled by Filipe, honestly. We don’t have to get out of pit lane first anymore, he just does it on the racetrack. We need to keep ourselves realistic. He’s not a normal driver, [but] that’s not always going to happen. He’s just been working some serious magic this year.”

The magic will be called upon again at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, the final race for the DPi class before it is replaced by the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class at the Rolex 24 in January.

Dalziel Delivers Decisively for LMP2 Win in No. 18 Era Motorsport ORECA

Ryan Dalziel has developed quite the love affair for Road America. The Scotsman pulled off the decisive pass for the lead with 11 minutes left in Sunday’s race and went on to claim the Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) win with co-driver Dwight Merriman in the No. 18 Era Motorsport ORECA LMP2 07.

It gave the duo their second straight LMP2 win at the Wisconsin circuit, the 13th IMSA career top-tier series victory for Dalziel and the third for Merriman.

“Since I kind of moved to the States back in 2003, this has always been one of those tracks that always seemed to have clicked with me,” Dalziel said. He hounded LMP2 leader Louis Deletraz in the No. 8 Tower Motorsport ORECA after a race restart from full-course caution with 36 minutes to go.

Both were in fuel-save mode, but Dalziel still found his chance to overtake Deletraz in the Canada Corner section of the 4.048-mile track. Two laps later, another yellow flag waved when the No. 60 Acura made contact with the wall in Turn 11 and the race ended under caution.

“We were trying to save fuel and it seemed like we were able to save a little easier than [Deletraz] was,” Dalziel explained. “The team were somewhat telling me to hang tight and try to pass him in the pits, but I just saw an opportunity and it happened.

“He had a bad run out of the Carousel and I had a pretty good run on him. He chose the middle and I chose the right, then he moved a little bit and then I moved him.”

With all cars starting the race on dry-condition tires and rain making an early appearance, conditions became dicey. But Merriman held strong in the opening stint, moving up three positions to second before making a pit stop and turning the car over to Dalziel 40 minutes into the race.

“It was a little tricky,” Merriman said. “We were on slick tires and trying to get a feel for it. Managed to get up to P2 by the end of the stint, which was great. I tried not to make any mistakes and find some pace.”

Deletraz dominated the middle of the race, leading 37 laps until Dalziel pulled off the late pass for the win.

By finishing second, the No. 8 and co-driver John Farano retained the LMP2 points lead, though it was trimmed to 33 points over Dalziel, Merriman and the No. 18 with only the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta remaining.

Robinson and Fraga Rock in LMP3

It looked routine for Felipe Fraga and Gar Robinson, but it most certainly was not.

Fraga and Robinson held it together through changing weather conditions to win the Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3) class, the first at the 14-turn, 4.048-mile circuit and the third at the track for Riley Motorsports. 

“That was more stressful than the [Rolex 24],” Robinson said. “Ever since I’ve come up here, you test and you’re fast in qualifying, and then it rains. And if you’re not fast, the weather will be perfect. Or it’ll be perfect and you’ll be fast, and some crazy yellow will come out. This is one of hardest races I’ve ever tried to win.”

Fraga’s stint in the rain put the No. 74 Riley Motorsports Ligier JS P320 in the lead, and he kept it there for the team’s third win of the season.

“It wasn’t smooth, but the team always called the right strategy,” Fraga said. “The car was perfect — very good to drive in the rain and very good to drive in the dry. I just brought it home. It wasn’t easy. It was tense.”

The No. 13 AWA co-driven by Orey Fidani and Matthew Bell finished second, with the No. 54 CORE Autosport co-driven by Jon Bennett and Colin Braun in third.

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