Albuquerque: Double points at Le Mans has skewed LMP2 fight

United Autosports’ Filipe Albuquerque believes the Le Mans 24 Hours shouldn’t be worth twice as many points as other FIA World Endurance Championship rounds, saying it skews the LMP2 title battle.

Albuquerque: Double points at Le Mans has skewed LMP2 fight

Due to the French classic's status as the flagship event on the WEC calendar, victory at Le Mans awards 50 points to the leading crew in each class, plus an extra point for pole position, while no more than 26 points are on offer in the six-hour events that make up the bulk of the season.

United Autosports arrived at this year’s rescheduled Le Mans race with a healthy lead in the LMP2 standings following victories at Portimao and Monza, only for an alternator issue at Le Mans to leave it 10th in class and allow three teams to leapfrog the team in the title fight.

The Anglo-American outfit was unable to close the gap to its rivals in the first race in Bahrain last weekend and now faces a 25-point deficit to the Le Mans-winning WRT squad, with a maximum of 39 points available in this weekend’s 8 Hours title decider.

Speaking to Motorsport.com, Albuquerque said he dislikes the way success or failure at Le Mans impacts the WEC championship fight, even when it has played into his favour.

“Le Mans is a huge part of the WEC; in terms of winning it alone it already dictates how good your season was," said Albuquerque, who shares the #22 United Oreca with Phil Hanson and Fabio Scherer. “I don't think it should be so important to be double points. As we've seen in the past when we won Le Mans [in 2020] and our main rival had a problem and scored zero points.

“With Le Mans, if we had not had an electric issue that triggered our alternator to fail, we would have still been fighting for the championship because Le Mans is double points. WRT got 50 points on us. They were behind us and they passed us with a big gap. It's hard to catch.

“Obviously if you come here [in Bahrain] where it's still 65 points on the table [across the two races], you can win mathematically, but it's very rare that somebody has a DNF. So it just puts you out of the race of the championship.

"In any championship, you want every fan to be watching the race until the last lap and not thinking, 'yeah, it's mathematically done, so why should I watch it?' There's not so much fight for the title. 

"Unfortunately, WRT, the ones that are leading, and JOTA as well, they did a good race [in Bahrain 6 Hours]. We needed to win, unfortunately it didn't come to us, so it's going to be super hard now to follow the last race."

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WRT trio Ferdinand Habsburg, Charles Milesi and Robin Frijns currently sit at the top of the standings with 113 points, with Sean Gelael, Tom Blomqvist and Stoffel Vandoorne just five points adrift in the #28 JOTA car. Anthony Davidson, Antonio Felix da Costa and Roberto Gonzalez are also in the title battle in the other JOTA entry, albeit 17 points behind the leading WRT crew.

Albuquerque says the top two teams in the standings may avoid taking any undue risks this weekend, giving United a chance to end the season with a third victory.

“I think [WRT and JOTA] are going to be fighting for the championship,” he said. “They will try to secure the championship first. They need to be careful with the ones that are not pushing for the championship like us, and the other JOTA maybe. We go more for the single wins. That's all that matters. 

"We assume that [WRT] have great pace, they won the first race [in Bahrain] and JOTA was second in the race. So I assume they are going to be pushing for the win as well, but they will not put themselves in as much risk as us, we don't have much to lose.”

The WEC 8 Hours of Bahrain will be streamed live on Motorsport.tvClick here for more information

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