Filipe Albuquerque was happy to see his RGR Sport by Morand car that he shares with team owner/driver Ricardo Gonzalez and former Formula 1 racer Bruno Senna take third place on the LMP2 grid for the season opening FIA World Endurance Championship race, the Six Hours of Silverstone.
The Portuguese racer has made the move from the discarded LMP1 third car of Audi to race in the LMP2 category in 2016, but admitted he would have preferred a cleaner run during practice and qualifying after the weather played havoc with proceedings.
“I would have liked to have a more clear drive in every aspect but yesterday we only drove with damp track, which was tricky,” said Albuquerque to The Checkered Flag. “Then today straight to quali, just one quick lap and pit in.
“For sure everyone struggled with that, corner one I should have done in one gear lower, because I was improvising. But I think we were still good with the P3, we can survive with that.”
Albuquerque feels happy to be a part of the new-for-2016 RGR Sport by Morand team, set up by Ricardo Gonzalez and bringing in the experience of Bruno Senna alongside them in the car, and of the French-based Onroak Automotive outfit to help run the team.
“It feels good, Morand is supplying the team, the mechanics and everything, and we are all getting to know each other,” said Albuquerque. “Ricardo is very experienced and Bruno as well, the engineers comes from Onroak so have a lot of experience so it’s a mix of experience, which is good.
“I think during the season we will be even better with experience together, but I think we have good ingredients to go for the wins and the podium.
“We have a good team spirit together, it was impressive that the first two laps he did in the wet when he went out, were not to far off my lap time, which in these conditions is when the biggest gaps come from a professional to a gentleman. I was happy with his time and I’m sure with time he will get even faster.
“To start with a P3 is a good one, even having the consideration that up to now we’ve had not so many laps on it, Ricardo could not drive the FP1, so he just had the few laps in FP2 and quali, it’s not easy.
“We want to be fighting for the victory. We will have to see how the race goes on, how it goes with the strategy, but I think we have pace to be there in the top three. I think we can be P2, P1 or even P5.”
Albuquerque steps into the RGR Sport by Morand car in 2016 after two seasons in the European Le Mans Series and as a member of the third car at Audi Sport in the World Endurance Championship, and feels the competitive nature of the championship will mean fun times in LMP2.
“After two seasons on ELMS, and Spa and Le Mans in WEC with LMP1, its the first time the LMP1’s are passing me, with how fast they go,” said the Portuguese racer.
“But I’m really happy to be here, because after what happened with Audi not having the third car, and this is the next best place to be.
“To do the full season of the WEC is good, and I can go for the championship for the first time. The LMP2 in WEC looks fantastically competitive, many good drivers, and I think we will have good fun.
“When I have my team-mate from last year Rene Rast or other guys like Nicolas Lapierre and very big names, we will have good fun I think.”