Filipe Albuquerque and Mathieu Jaminet viewed their dramatic late-race accident while fighting for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring lead as an example of “hard racing”.
Jaminet in the #6 Penske Porsche 963 was trying to hold off Albuquerque’s Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport Acura ARX-06 when the two GTP contenders clashed with 20 minutes to go.
As Jaminet went to deal with the GTD Pro traffic out of Turn 1, an attacking Albuquerque ran onto the grass beside him before spinning over the apex of Turn 3 and rattling the Porsche.
The accident continued when Felipe Nasr struck Albuquerque and threw his Penske-operated No. 7 Porsche over the nose of teammate Jaminet’s car and briefly into the air.
The carnage allowed Action Express Racing’s Jack Aitken to take the lead before Cadillac claimed its first win in the GTP class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
“First of all, not in the way we wanted to finish the race,” Jaminet told Sportscar365.
“I’m really sorry for the entire Porsche Penske Motorsport group and team, the entire Porsche family for this ending. Luckily I’m fine. The two Filipes are fine. That’s the most important.
“After that we race hard. Everyone was pretty much all in.”
Jaminet recalled moving to the left of the Risi Competizione Ferrari 296 GT3 fleeing Turn 3, but he didn’t see Albuquerque’s Acura until it was too late.
“Basically, the No. 10 drove on the left on the grass,” said the Porsche driver.
“From what I saw on the outside camera, I moved more to the left. But the thing is, I didn’t know he was there. Then I realized he was there, so I tried to move to the right.
“But he’s in the grass and then you lose control in the grass and that’s what caused the accident. It’s a real shame, but I’m really sorry for the 10.
“Filipe Albuquerque, I apologized as soon as I got out of the car. He also came straight to apologize for his move and attempted to walk onto the lawn.
“I think it’s a really unfortunate racing accident. Both drivers were at the limit.”
Albuquerque said he waited for a chance to pounce on Jaminet in traffic after the No. 6 Porsche passed the No. 10 Acura on the final lap of pit stops.
Jaminet and Albuquerque then overtook Aitken, who was running on older Michelin tires, and fought a duel that ended in the crash barriers.
“I tried to go to the outside at Turn 1 but I couldn’t really do it because I lost the front,” Albuquerque told Sportscar365.
“I was kind of amazed that he didn’t move to the left. I got involved and risked a lot.
“I don’t think he saw me and he hit me once. I was a bit shaken when I put two wheels on the grass, but I was still able to control it. Then I braked. But then he hit me the second time. It was brutal.
“That was the moment you saw me completely in the grass. From then on, I was just a passenger. I braked, just saw a lot of cars and closed one eye…here I come.
“I didn’t know who I was hitting. I hit him and got hit there. The second was pretty tough. It pushed me back onto the grass. But I think these cars are pretty safe.”
Taylor: WTR Andretti ‘felt it was our race’
The accident ended a strong showing for the No. 10 Acura trying to give WTR Andretti team owner Wayne Taylor his first Sebring 12 Hour win since 2017.
“It was a tough racing accident,” said Taylor. “I’m proud of Filipe, the way he drove. I’m just proud of the whole team for what they’ve accomplished.
“I felt like we dominated the race and I felt like it was our race. But so many things happen at Sebring, and this was one of those things that happened.
“Now that I’ve spoken to Filipe and he’s spoken to the guy in the other car who said he basically never saw him there. It’s a racing accident.
“It looked like it was going to be easy but then you have to realize this is a brutal sport and tonight it hit us in the face.”
Jonathan Grace contributed to this report