Filipe Albuquerque will return to JOTA Sport for a second season in the European Le Mans Series (ELMS).
The popular Portuguese driver formed an integral part of the team’s 2014 line-up that finished second in the championship, but Albuquerque is intending to go one better this season.
Albuquerque will race an upgraded and re-branded Gibson 015S prototype (previously known as the Zytek Z11SN) alongside team owner Simon Dolan.
As an Audi Sport Team Joest LMP1 works driver, Albuquerque will be juggling his sportscar duties this season. He will race in all five rounds of the ELMS, which begins at Silverstone on April 11.
JOTA Sport are returning to the ELMS after a highly successful 2014 season, in which Albuquerque and team-mates Dolan and Harry Tincknell secured three podiums and one race win. The British team also claimed their first win at Le Mans, emerging as the victors in a tense LMP2 class battle.
Preparations for the 2015 season are already in full swing, with Albuquerque and Dolan breaking in the Gibson prototype at a rain-soaked Estoril recently. In addition, the third full-time driver for the team’s ELMS programme will be announced next month, while Albuquerque’s replacement for the Spa-Francorchamps and Le Mans FIA World Endurance Championship rounds is also due to be revealed.
“I am very happy to be returning to race for JOTA Sport in 2015 in addition to my Audi Sport factory commitments,” Albuquerque said. “After last season, I now know all of the JOTA team very well which will immediately help from the opening race.
“I am delighted to return to ELMS having just missed out on winning the title with Simon and Harry Tincknell last year. The championship gets more competitive every year and I think 2015 will be even tougher, in terms of both cars and drivers, because teams are raising the level. But I am sure that we as a team will be even stronger.
“Competing in ELMS gives me the opportunity again to race on home soil at Estoril and that is always special. Last year, the Portuguese organisers and crowd put on a spectacular show. It was a perfect day for motorsport in Portugal and for the ELMS despite us just missing out on the title.”
Simon Dolan added, “I’m personally delighted to have Filipe on board again with JOTA Sport. He’s an outstanding driver, totally professional and a really lovely guy. I couldn’t ask for anything else from a team-mate.
“It will be very interesting to see how the Gibson does against the new Coupés. Our recent Estoril test was frustrating due to the weather, but the latest upgrades have unlocked a whole new area of performance that we need to work on and fully exploit which would then give us a fantastic race car which will enable us to fight for both the ELMS title and to enable us to defend our Le Mans win.”
Sam Hignett, Partner of JOTA Group, commented, “We’re delighted that Filipe can re-join Simon for our ELMS campaign and are grateful to Audi Sport for allowing him to combine his sportscar programmes.
“Obviously Harry has moved on, graduating to the Nissan LM P1 programme and everyone at JOTA Sport is thrilled for him. That now leaves us with a driver vacancy and we’ll be aiming to announce our third ELMS driver next month. Additionally we’re working hard on filling the final seat for Le Mans.”