Albuquerque keen to defend WEC title alongside IMSA drive

FIA World Endurance Championship LMP2 title winner Filipe Albuquerque wants to defend his crown in 2021, despite his new Acura IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship drive taking priority.

Albuquerque keen to defend WEC title alongside IMSA drive

The Portuguese has signed up for a full IMSA programme with the Wayne Taylor Racing Acura DPi team, but he is hoping to return to drive for the United Autosports squad with which he won the 2019/20 LMP2 WEC title together with Phil Hanson. 

Albuquerque pointed out that there are no date conflicts on the 2021 IMSA and WEC schedules as they stand.

"I would like to continue to do the WEC next year and it does not clash," he said. "My main project is the WTR team with Konica Minolta [its primary sponsors] and Acura; my second priority would be the WEC and to win it again if it possible. 

"That would be my desire, but we will have to wait and see — in the next two or three weeks we will know more."

United boss Richard Dean described Albuquerque as a "potential" for what could be an expanded two-car line-up fielded by the British-based team in the 2021 WEC. 

The line-up of Albuquerque, Hanson and Paul di Resta, who drove with them in seven of the eight races, will have to be broken up for 2021. 

#22 United Autosports Oreca 07 Gibson - Philip Hanson, Filipe Albuquerque, Paul di Resta

#22 United Autosports Oreca 07 Gibson - Philip Hanson, Filipe Albuquerque, Paul di Resta

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

Hanson has been upgraded from silver to gold status under the FIA driver grading system and the rules for LMP2 demand a minimum of one driver of silver or bronze status in each car. 

"No final decisions have been made, but the intention is for Phil to be back if we can put the right line-up alongside him," Dean told Motorsport.com.

"We're looking for the right silver and the intention is that one of the other two [Albuquerque or di Resta] will be with Phil."

Dean didn't rule out either Albuquerque or di Resta driving the team's second Oreca 07 should he be able to put a deal together to expand the team. 

"We'd love to figure out a way to keep both of them," he said. "We're getting closer to the second car, but at the moment the line-up could come from six, eight or 10 drivers."

United will field a minimum of three cars at the Le Mans 24 Hours centrepiece round of the WEC if it manages to go up to two cars for the full series. 

In theory it has four automatic entries for the French endurance classic next year, one for winning the race in 2020, two for finishing first and second in LMP2 in this year's European Le Mans Series and one for claiming the LMP3 class title.

"The plan is to put an entry together for the 24 Hours from our ELMS cars, but if we had two mega line-ups that wanted to go Le Mans, we probably wouldn't turn down the opportunity," he explained. "The two teams run independently and use separate cars, so it is doable."

Albuquerque also won the ELMS title with Hanson in 2021, but next year's schedule includes two clashes with IMSA.

shares
comments

Related video

Racing Team Nederland joins LMP2 field for Rolex 24
Previous article

Racing Team Nederland joins LMP2 field for Rolex 24

Next article

Jani replaces Christensen in Porsche's WEC stable

Jani replaces Christensen in Porsche's WEC stable
How Formula E's double-duty drivers got on at Le Mans Prime

How Formula E's double-duty drivers got on at Le Mans

Eight Formula E drivers made the 7,000-mile sprint from the streets of Jakarta to the fabled Circuit de la Sarthe and every one had a story to share at this year's Le Mans 24 Hours. Despite a range of triumphs and disappointments, each driver doubling up on the day job played a key role in their teams' fortunes

Le Mans
Jun 14, 2022
How junior formula giant Prema is readying for its Le Mans future Prime

How junior formula giant Prema is readying for its Le Mans future

Prema remains a colossus in single-seaters, but the serial Formula 2 and Formula 3 title-winning squad has joined forces with top GT squad Iron Lynx for an attack on sportscars in the FIA World Endurance Championship and European Le Mans Series. Ahead of its debut at the Le Mans 24 Hours, its sights are firmly fixed on LMP2 glory – and a future in Hypercars next year...

Le Mans
Jun 8, 2022
The British rookies targeting a good first impression at Le Mans Prime

The British rookies targeting a good first impression at Le Mans

Three young Britons will make their first starts in the Le Mans 24 Hours this weekend in the highly-competitive 23-car GTE Am field. But how did they get here? Motorsport.com hears their stories.

Le Mans
Jun 7, 2022
The wingless wonder Peugeot hopes will restore it to Le Mans glory Prime

The wingless wonder Peugeot hopes will restore it to Le Mans glory

Peugeot went radical with the initial plan for its Le Mans Hypercar project, and then stuck to its guns. Here’s how things are shaping up a few weeks before the debut of the 9X8 in next month's Monza World Endurance Championship round

WEC
Jun 1, 2022
How Toyota’s sole survivor turned the tables at Spa Prime

How Toyota’s sole survivor turned the tables at Spa

After a chastening opening to the season at Sebring that ended in an enormous accident, Toyota's #7 crew got their World Endurance Championship underway with victory at a treacherously slippery Spa to make up for its sister car's Sebring defeat to Alpine, as Glickenhaus's promising qualifying turned to disaster in the race

WEC
May 9, 2022
How Toyota's WEC dominance was curbed at stormy Sebring Prime

How Toyota's WEC dominance was curbed at stormy Sebring

Toyota’s stranglehold on the FIA World Endurance Championship ended at the 2022 opener at Sebring, but all accusing eyes were on the Balance of Performance system as the key to the shake-up. Here's how it unfolded, to see Alpine celebrating under a stormy sky having blown away the defending champions...

WEC
Mar 21, 2022
Why Penske remains ambitious for its WEC learning year Prime

Why Penske remains ambitious for its WEC learning year

Team Penske is gearing up for its role in running Porsche’s LMDh programme from 2023 by entering this year's World Endurance Championship with an LMP2 car. Although the team is considering 2022 as a season to learn, it is no less serious about winning than ever - which should make the already fiercely competitive class even more so

WEC
Mar 17, 2022
Why Peugeot couldn't afford to take a Le Mans gamble in 2022 Prime

Why Peugeot couldn't afford to take a Le Mans gamble in 2022

Ahead of the much-anticipated arrival of its new 9X8 Hypercar, Peugeot revealed that it would not be entering this year's Le Mans 24 Hours with its incoming machinery. Although development restrictions for homologated cars are partially responsible, the French marque can draw on its own lessons from its history in sportscars

WEC
Feb 28, 2022