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Audi factory driver Filipe Albuquerque, in addition to his two commitments in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) in the Audi R18 e-tron quattro, will be competing in the European Le Mans Series (ELMS) as well. In the series’ LMP2 class, the Portuguese will be sharing a Zytek race car of Jota Sport with the Britons Simon Dolan and Harry Tincknell. “I’m thankful to Audi Sport that this cooperation is possible and that I’ve been released for the runs with Jota,” says Albuquerque. “This makes for a win-win situation. Jota is one of the best teams in the ELMS, we’re sharing the will to win and the experience will help me to prepare myself for the Spa 6 Hours and the Le Mans 24 Hours.”
You switched from the DTM to Audi’s LMP program. What is the most fascinating thing about endurance racing and the Audi R18 e-tron quattro for you?
There are two big differences. The car generates clearly more downforce and thus has more grip than a DTM touring car. And the biggest difference in general is the extent of technology involved. In any situation, it’s crucial to use the technology of our Audi R18 e-tron quattro in a way that optimally assists us as drivers. The R18 e-tron quattro runs with technologies today that could be making their way into production at Audi in the future. Audi has been known for this for more than 30 years. Whenever the technology becomes available to customers, we will have made a small contribution to it as race drivers.
This week, it was announced that you’ll be contesting the European Le Mans Series for the Jota Sport team in order to prepare for the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). What are your expectations of the ELMS?
I’m very happy about this cooperation. It’s a win-win situation. I want to help Team Jota to battle for race victories and for the title. The squad has shown that it numbers among the best ELMS teams. For me personally, it’s about adjusting my driving style to sports cars and to be running well in traffic. In contrast to the DTM, the field in sports car racing features various race car classes, and overtaking maneuvers are the rule. You’ve got to develop a very good feel for traffic to keep from losing too much time and to efficiently manage your fuel.
Your season started in January in the Tudor United SportsCar Championship. At Daytona, you finished fifth in your class. On March 15, Sebring is on the agenda. At Flying Lizard, you’ll be running with Seth Neiman, Dion von Moltke and Alessandro Latif. What are you aiming to achieve in Florida in the Audi R8 LMS?
We’re shooting for a podium finish. Maybe we’ll even be in contention for victory. But seriously, there’s no way to predict a result in this difficult 12-hour race. The track is new for me and considered unique in the racing world. I’m flying to America on Tuesday and am very much looking forward to it.