Ricky Taylor and Filipe Albuquerque dominated the Hyundai Monterey Sports Car Championship Presented by Motul at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca for the second consecutive year. But their first race win of the 2022 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship was anything but straightforward and easy.
Albuquerque triple-stinted the majority of the two-hour, 40-minute race in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Acura ARX-05 Daytona Prototype international (DPi). He endured intense pressure from a similar Acura DPi fielded by Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian and driven by Tom Blomqvist for more than two hours of that driving time.
The race featured a single, early full-course caution, so the result came down to which driver best navigated heavy traffic as they wound around the 2.238-mile road course on California’s Monterey Peninsula. Blomqvist actually seized the lead in the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura for about 10 minutes, only for Albuquerque to regain it for the final time with just over an hour remaining.
Albuquerque was finally able to build a small cushion in the closing minutes and crossed the finish line 1.080 seconds ahead of a frustrated Blomqvist. The No. 31 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R claimed third place with drivers Tristan Nunez and Pipo Derani.
Taylor sprinted to a 10-second lead to open the race before the only full-course caution of the afternoon erased the advantage he built prior to handing the car to Albuquerque.
“With me running with the ‘gentlemen’ drivers at the start, I got lucky with traffic a couple times and once you get a cushion, it’s quite easy to manage,” said Taylor, who qualified the WTR Acura on pole position Saturday with a new WeatherTech Raceway DPi track record. “Then Filipe was in against all the pro drivers in the GTs, and it didn’t work out as well for him. He was always under pressure.
“We played some strategy early which bit us and gave the No. 60 the lead,” Taylor continued. “But Filipe made it happen on the track. We didn’t want to settle for second, and he won the race.”
Albuquerque was buzzing after his two-hour-plus stint resulted in victory for the Konica Minolta-sponsored team, coming at the same track where he and Taylor claimed their most recent win last September. The No. 10 Acura led 111 of the 117 laps completed Sunday, with Albuquerque at the wheel for the final 90.
“I knew it was going to be a long stint, but the engineers said this is the best strategy to win,” he said. “I said, ‘Let’s do whatever it takes for the win.’ This was an important race for us because we know this track suits our car. So, it was very important to do pole position and win.
“We grabbed it, but it was not easy,” Albuquerque added. “We were flat out. It was a tough race, but I think that’s the beauty of endurance racing. Even if you are a couple tenths faster, traffic puts you back.”
Blomqvist thought the No. 60 Acura that he shared with Oliver Jarvis was actually faster than the No. 10.
“I had much more pace than them and we just had to bide our time,” Blomqvist said. “We did a good strategy where we stopped a lap earlier and I had a good out lap, so we were able to undercut them and managed to jump into the lead.
“Then we came across a bunch of maniacs out there,” he lamented. “I think I got the worst possible traffic at the worst time. Filipe was pretty forceful at the Corkscrew and managed to get through, but that messed up our race because there really wasn’t another opportunity to get past.”
The two Acuras and their drivers are tied for the DPi points lead, while Acura and Cadillac are now deadlocked for the manufacturer’s crown. This was Acura’s fourth straight WeatherTech Raceway DPi victory.