Filipe Albuquerque is hoping that IMSA will rethink its current regulation of not requiring three-driver lineups in the GTP class at the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, indicating that it could compromise teams’ strategies during the weekend.
Despite being mandated in the Pro-Am enforced LMP2, LMP3 and GTD categories, three-driver lineups are optional in GTP and GTD Pro for the shortest round of the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup season.
The majority of the GTP teams this weekend have gone for its two regular full-season pilots only, although Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport and Action Express Racing have brought in their third drivers, in Louis Deletraz and Jack Aitken respectively, primarily to keep those drivers on equal points with their full-time co-drivers for the Endurance Cup title.
While no change will be made ahead of this weekend’s race, the Portuguese star is hopeful that the sanctioning body would look at the situation for a potential change in the future.
“It’s been a topic, to be honest,” Albuquerque said. “I never understand why it’s not mandatory to be three drivers.
“One of the reasons why we have three drivers is because Louis is fighting for the [Endurance Cup] championship. Also, sometimes it’s super hot in there and it can be tricky.
“But last year, for example, it was proven that it was better to only have two drivers.
“If it would be a rule that it would be mandatory three drivers, that differentiates the endurance races to the normal IMSA championship because there are two championships.”
Albuquerque said he understands and supports WTR Andretti’s decision to bring Deletraz into the lineup this weekend but admitted the preparation is “way better” with two drivers.
“It happened to me in the past and it happened to Alex Rossi that if it’s not mandatory, those guys helped [as] the third driver for Daytona, Sebring and teams can opt to not have them for Watkins Glen and have them again for Petit,” he explained.
“It just makes no sense that they are not the Michelin Endurance Cup winners just because they didn’t do one race.
“It should be mandatory. We are trying to be fair to Louis, to be honest, and we are going mainly for that.
“We’re second in the [Endurance Cup] championship, so we are trying to go for it.”
Porsche Penske Motorsport’s Felipe Nasr, who is co-driving the No. 7 Porsche 963 with Matt Campbell this weekend, has noted the benefits of having two drivers for a six-hour race.
“With two drivers, I think it gives you the flexibility you need in a race that we call six hours, but it’s pretty much a sprint,” the Brazilian said.
“I think it gives the team enough flexibility to choose, whether you’re starting or you’re doing the middle part of the race and who is ending.
“That also gives us more time during the whole weekend to get prepared.
“Everyone has more time in the car, more time to work on setup or you can make one driver do some quali setup and the other driver do race setup.”
Nasr, who was the third driver in Pfaff Motorsports’ GTD Pro championship-winning entry last year, was removed from having a chance to win the Endurance Cup because he was not part of the team’s lineup at Watkins Glen.
Mathieu Jaminet and Matt Campbell ended up finishing second in the GTD Pro Endurance Cup championship last year.
“When it comes to the race, I get the point where Filipe is saying as well,” Nasr said.
“Last year when Matt Campbell and Jam (Mathieu Jaminet) were on their way towards the [GTD Pro] championship overall and in the Endurance Cup, I had to stay out.
“I sure felt like I wish I was there as well because that would have counted for another championship for myself.”
Albuquerque added: “The preparation is way better [with two drivers] because we’re focused on giving drive time to Louis, but in the race if it’s really hot, maybe it can be better.
“Up until the race, two drivers is always better.
“But again, it should be a non-topic. It should should be three drivers or two drivers, not leaving the teams to choose. That’s obvious for me.”