One more surprising outcome of the dramatic three-car accident that eliminated the top-three running GTP cars with only 19 minutes remaining in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring was that anger was largely absent in the reactions afterward from the drivers involved. Instead, the prevailing emotion was of sadness at how fate had conspired to shuffle the deck and enable the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac to navigate through the wreck and go on to win…tinged, in the case of Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport’s Filipe Albuquerque, with an insistence that, faced with the same situation, he’d do the same thing again.
The race-defining accident involved the three front-running cars. Albuquerque in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-06, pulled up alongside Mathieu Jaminet in the leading No. 6 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963 hoping to overtake at Turn 3 as they came upon slower GT cars. Instead, Albuquerque went wide to avoid the Porsche that was also trying to avoid another car and the No. 10 ran off course. When Albuquerque’s Acura came back across the track, it hit Jaminet’s race-leading Porsche. They also collected the third-place No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963 driven by Felipe Nasr in the melee.
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While labeling the outcome “sad,” Albuquerque says that given the same circumstances, he would make the same move again.
“What a sad ending,” said Albuquerque. “Unfortunately, in the last pit stop, the Porsche managed to pass us. We were P3. It was kind of crazy that all my laps were in the lead and the last 20 minutes, I was behind somebody, which was weird. We knew the No. 31 had no chance because he had old tires and the fight was with the Porsche ahead of me. I think we had a little bit of an edge on them, but staying behind it was super hard to follow, so it needed to be done in traffic.
“The traffic came and I saw a hole — tight, but I saw it. I think he (Jaminet) moved, but I need to see the replay again because I don’t want to place blame on anybody. I think I was there and then there was contact with the two of us, and the second touch threw me completely in the grass and I couldn’t stop the car then I was a bowling ball, just knocking cars down.
“It was pretty brutal where I got hit once and then somebody hit me. I just felt like I was getting thrown from one side to another, but these cars are safe and I’m good, that’s what’s most important. It’s sad to not get the win when we had such a strong car and for the WTR Andretti team, they put a lot of energy into this. I’m not a guy to finish P2, I give it my all and I would do the same again.”
Jaminet had a similar viewpoint, describing the incident as a lamentable inevitability of close-quarters racing. “I didn’t know he was there. And then I realized he’s there, so I tried to move to the right,” he related. “But he’s in the grass, and then he lost control, and then that caused the accident. So that’s really unfortunate.”
“It’s kind of standard Sebring at the end of the race,” said Jaminet’s co-driver, Dane Cameron. “It gets pretty rowdy in the night, the restarts in the dark and you come up on GTs. Obviously, it’s disappointing to end this way, but I must say I’m very, very proud of Mathieu. He was flying and doing a fantastic job and put us in position to win. It’s unfortunate it ended the way that it did but I’m very proud of all the boys and girls on the team. It’s been very difficult and many, many, many hours preparing. It’s a shame but I understand what Mathieu was doing there and it’s just unfortunate.”