Albuquerque, Phil Hanson and Will Owen have finished no higher than fifth in 2022 with just this weekend’s Bahrain finale to run, which is unusual for a crew that has been a frontrunner in LMP2 since United’s entry into the WEC in 2019/20.
Albuquerque and Hanson won the class title at the first time of asking three years ago in a car they shared for most of the season with Paul di Resta, while the duo also scored two race victories last year with Fabio Scherer in the #22 Oreca 07 .
This year, the trio scored pole positions at both Sebring and Monza and bagged another front row start at Le Mans, but race results have proved much harder to come so far with Spa the only time they only managed to break inside the top five.
Albuquerque is happy with the pace he and his teammates have shown in 2022, but is in disbelief over how they’ve never been able to put together a strong result given their previous success in the category.
“We’ve been having a really, really hard season,” the Portuguese driver told Motorsport.com. “Things didn’t come our way for multiple seasons, but like I said in 2020 when we won the ELMS, Le Mans and WEC, we had a lucky star, it was on our side.
“To win you need that and sometimes we were not deserving of a podium and we were not on the podium.
“This time it’s the opposite. We don’t have at all the lucky stars. Sometimes we were looking good multiple times, but for one reason or the other we never even got a podium. Our best result is a P5, which is shocking.
“It’s just that in some years there is nothing you can do about it. I was just looking the other day, we just barely have the five races we have the same points as Paul di Resta, who only did the first race of the season [in the #23 car].
“This is just shocking. That’s how bad our season is.”
#22 United Autosports Usa Oreca 07 – Gibson of Filipe Albuquerque
Photo by: Eric Le Galliot
A litany of reasons have prevented the #22 United from finishing near the front, including an ill-timed red flag and subsequent spin on cold tires at the restart for Owen at Sebring, a hit from #31 WRT Oreca at the start of Le Mans , and technical issues while again in a strong position at Monza.
Given how many times United led early stages of a race during the season, Albuquerque said the championship picture would have been very different had the #22 crew converted some of their strong starting positions into victories.
“In five races we [always] started from the front row or the second row, so that tells you the pace that we have,” the two-time Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona winner explained.
“We led multiple laps in the races. I think Sebring almost half of the race, Monza half of the race in the lead and things didn’t happen [our way].
“For example, the red flag [at Sebring] we were just finishing the triple stint with Will and obviously when you have a red flag the tires cool down. To warm up again the tire that is completely dead, you suffer way more than a tire that is okay. So we lost a lot of time there.
“The throttle issue that we had at Monza again when we were really looking good. some little things it’s out of your control and you put one or two wins in there and we would have been fighting for the championship.”
Josh Pierson and Oliver Jarvis, who share the #23 United car with Alex Lynn, are second in the championship going into this Saturday’s Bahrain 8 Hours, albeit 28 points down on the #38 JOTA crew with only 39 on offer this weekend.
Albuquerque feels the results of the sister car, which won the Sebring 1000 season opener, shows that the United team is still performing at its optimum this year.
“Both cars were pairing up really close to each other the whole season and one is fighting for the championship and the other is completely out. So that shows that it’s nothing to do with the performance of United at all,” he added.