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Acura/Honda sitting out 2023 Le Mans "hurts" for Albuquerque

Filipe Albuquerque says “it hurts” knowing he will race in the Le Mans 24 Hours next year with an LMP2 car when Acura has an LMDh eligible for the top class. 

Wayne Taylor, Wayne Taylor Racing Acura ARX-06

The Portuguese driver has signed up for a repeat of his twin FIA World Endurance Championship and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship assaults with the United Autosports and Wayne Taylor Racing teams respectively for 2023.

However, while he and his WTR teammates will be tackling IMSA’s top division with the new Acura ARX-06, the car will not be contesting the WEC or its centrepiece Le Mans race.

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Any such undertaking would likely see the Oreca-based ARX-06 rebadged as a Honda, but so far the Japanese manufacturer has not shown any interest in a partial WEC programme upon which any Le Mans entry would most likely depend.

Speaking to Motorsport.com, Albuquerque couldn’t hide his disappointment that with no Acura at Le Mans, he will be competing for secondary honours in the French classic again.

“At the moment Acura is focused just on IMSA, but for sure as a racer it hurts to be doing Le Mans in 2023 in an LMP2 car, knowing that there is a car in the garage fully capable of going for the ultimate prize and it’s just not there,” said Albuquerque. 

“This is why they did the regulations like this, so you can do both Daytona and Le Mans and maximise the manufacturers’ investment. When this doesn’t happen, you get disappointed. 

“I understand that it’s more complicated than that because Acura is an American brand, and the Japanese Honda guys need to figure out what to do, but we are ready and we have the experience to do it.”

 

Despite being a mainstay of the WEC’s LMP2 class, Albuquerque did race in the top division at Le Mans in 2014-15 for Audi when the German marque ran a third LMP1 car.

He said how painful he has found it not to have had any opportunity to fight for outright honours at La Sarthe since then.

“My main thing is doing Le Mans,” he said. “It’s the ultimate thing and I want to do it every year that I’m racing. I started Le Mans straight away in the top class in LMP1, then things fell off. 

“For eight years, there was no way I could drive in the top class and go for the ultimate prize, which was killing me. Now I know there’s a chance [with the Acura LMDh] but we’re still not going because the car is not going… it kills me even more! 

“I just want to challenge for the overall win at Le Mans again, I hate to be looking in my mirrors. It’s been great to drive and win in LMP2, it’s been by far the most competitive class, with 20-25 cars, but it’s still not the ultimate.”

Albuquerque shared an Audi R18 with Rene Rast and Marco Bonanomi at Le Mans in 2015

Albuquerque shared an Audi R18 with Rene Rast and Marco Bonanomi at Le Mans in 2015

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