By Christopher DeHarde, IndyCar & Road to Indy Writer
Felipe Albuquerque has every right to be upset. I would be upset too if I lost the overall lead in the final 10 minutes of a 24 hour race, especially the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
However, it would be in his best interests to not be upset with Ricky Taylor. Instead, the former factory Audi driver should be upset with himself.
As time dwindled away in Sunday’s Rolex 24, Albuquerque led his No. 5 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi ahead of Taylor’s Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac DPi but left the inside lane open heading to the first corner.
With just over seven minutes to go, Taylor went for a small gap and Albuquerque went to slam the door. Instead of remaining in front, Albuquerque found himself spinning across the track, losing the lead and precious time.
IMSA race control deemed that no further action would be taken as a consequence of the incident, which prompted much discussion on social media.
After Taylor crossed the finish line to win the race for himself, brother Jordan, Jeff Gordon and Max Angelelli, Albuquerque was left to explain his feelings to IMSA Radio.
“I don’t think I lost the race to be honest because I don’t race like this,” said Albuquerque. “He hit me in the back- we can see in the car. So I spun and then he didn’t even wait for me, he just took off. If the officials don’t agree that it’s a penalty, okay, but it can be a fair play by waiting for the fight but it happened so it is what it is.
“It was not a clean move, let’s say it like that. And I think everyone saw that, everyone knows that.”
Albuquerque’s frustration is understood but it should be at his mistake that cost his team the race, not at Taylor for going for the open gap.
In the waning moments of a motor race, an overtaking driver will look for any opportunity he or she can find in order to gain an advantage. Such moves that are attempted in the closing hours would be severely frowned upon had they been attempted in the first quarter of the race.
Such was the case with the incident in question. Taylor would not have made that move in the fourth hour, but in the 24th hour there was no question, it was time to go for the victory.
Had race control made a call on the incident, it would have left a bad taste in the mouth of several who questioned a non call on a restart involving the other Action Express car possibly blocking the No. 10 Cadillac.
Even with the collision, a classic Rolex 24 at Daytona ended with three classes having battles for the lead in the last few minutes and who can complain about that?