Filipe Albuquerque might be facing his toughest Le Mans yet, but if it goes his way, the overall podium could be on the cards for him and his teammates. We caught up with the Portuguese driver just after qualifying.
Filipe, we’re on the brink of an historic edition of the 24 hours of Le Mans. There are new categories, new regulations... What’s your feeling about this race?
Driving at Le Mans is always special, no matter what you’re driving. We’re indeed facing some steep competition, and maybe we’re not exactly where we’d like to be. Then again, during the night practice, I was back on the pace again, and I’m just having fun.
What makes driving at Le Mans during the night so special?
I might get a bit poetic now. Driving at certain tracks feels like you’re reproducing a painting. Tracks like Spa or Le Mans. They are so natural and rhythmic. You just get into a flow, and you can really enjoy it.
The premier class and the LMP2 class have never been closer together. You had an overall podium in Monza. What would it mean to have one in Le Mans?
To be honest, not that much. I mean, it’s ok, but it’s more important to win in my category than to score an overall podium. I’m a racer, and I enjoy a fair fight. If I beat a Hypercar, that would just mean that I gained an advantage because he suffered mechanical failure. The winner of the LMP2 category could likely be on the overall podium but for me it’s not that important.
The entire LMP2 field is now racing the Oreca 7 chassis. What makes this car so special?
It’s just a great car to the drive. It’s very well adapted to smooth European tracks. It’s got less mechanical grip than the Ligier I used to drive, but it brings all of its speed from the downforce. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to make it into a one-make series. It might even make it a bit more manageable and attract more drivers.
You have a few 24-hour races under your belt. How do you prepare for one?
To be honest, I don’t do anything different. I do two big 24-hour races a year, and they’re precisely six months apart, so I’m always preparing for the next race. So for the last seven years, I think I’m just always ready for one and keep myself in that shape.xxx