As the final 30 minutes of the race approached, Albuquerque was battling for victory in the #10 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Acura ARX-06, with his sights firmly set on passing the #6 Porsche Penske Motorsport 963 of Mathieu Jaminet for the lead.
The two cars came to blows exiting Turn 1 after Jaminet moved to the left to avoid GTD traffic, sending Albuquerque’s car off-track and skating across the grass out of control until rejoining at the Turn 3 left-hander, where he clattered into the side of the Porsche.
The other Porsche of Felipe Nasr was unable to avoid the chaos ahead in the darkness and hit the Acura, before launching off Jaminet’s car and landing just a few metres ahead on the run-off.
All three cars were eliminated from the race in an instant, handing the #31 Action Express Racing Cadillac a surprise victory in the second race of the IMSA SportsCar Championship's GTP era.
Albuquerque admitted that he was frustrated to lose a potential victory with a late-race incident, but insisted he didn’t want to settle for second position.
“What a sad ending,” said the 37-year-old. “Unfortunately, in the last pitstop, the Porsche managed to pass us. 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.
“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.Read Also:How one WEC stalwart set the marker for the newcomers to chasePeugeot already working on gearshift fix which hurt WEC Sebring chargeFerrari didn’t expect to fight Toyota for WEC Sebring winFourth on WEC debut "a fantastic start" for Cadillac - Lynn
“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.”
#6 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963: Nick Tandy, Mathieu Jaminet, Dane Cameron
Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images
Jaminet was apologetic for the incident which came amid the marque's strongest showing with its LMDh racer yet after a frustrating debut at Daytona in January and an underwhelming performance in the opening round of the World Endurance Championship at the same Sebring venue on Friday.
However, he also felt it was a “huge stroke of bad luck” that the #5 Porsche also got caught out in the melee and retired through no fault of its own, allowing Cadillac to come through and snatch an unlikely win.
“I would like to apologise to the entire Porsche motorsport family and the Porsche Penske Motorsport team for the accident,” said Jaminet.
“In the close finale on the pitch-black Sebring track, sadly such incidents can happen sometimes.
“I wanted to go all-out and take advantage of a small gap – unfortunately, that resulted in a big accident.
“My team-mate Felipe had nothing to do with it but he was thrown out of the race, too. It was just a huge stroke of bad luck. And so, a great race had a terrible end.
“Still, I’d like to focus on the positives: The team did a fantastic job, the car was very strong in the race.”2023-03-19T16:28:00Z dg43tfdfdgfd