Deletraz will pair up with team returnee Jordan Taylor next season, as WTR with Andretti scales up to two Acura ARX-06 LMDh cars in IMSA’s GTP class, after racing alongside Albuquerque and Ricky Taylor at the four IMSA endurance rounds this year.
The Swiss notably qualified on pole at Road Atlanta for the season-ending Petit Le Mans 10-hour race, although WTR missed out on the title following a clash with the championship-winning Action Express Racing Cadillac.
Speaking to Motorsport.com prior to the event, Albuquerque said that Deletraz had justified his selection for a full-time seat based on his performances relative to the team’s regular drivers despite comparatively limited mileage.
“I’ve been through that situation as well, I think it’s so hard to prove that you are good,” said Albuquerque, who was the third driver for AXR in 2016-17 before going full-time with the squad for 2018.
“Because you do very little testing and they want straight away for you to be on the same pace as the main guys.
“Then you do two races [at Daytona and Sebring] and then you go away and you only show up [again] for Watkins Glen, you drive in the middle or whatever and again – not driving for four months – the team expects you to do as well as the main guys.
“And for the last race of the year, you need to be on the level of the main guys that have been doing all year with the car that you drove three times.
“That’s hard, and he’s been doing well, so [he] totally deserved the seat.”
Photo by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images
#10 Wayne Taylor Racing Acura ARX-06: Ricky Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque, Louis Deletraz
Deletraz has won two European Le Mans Series titles in the last three years with the ORECA-Gibson 07, contributed heavily to John Farano securing the 2022 IMSA P2 title for Tower Motorsport and currently leads the World Endurance Championship’s P2 standings for WRT with one race to go.
But Albuquerque says the Acura’s basis in an ORECA has no effect on Deletraz’s ability to get up to speed as the extra weight and added complexity resulting from the hybrid system means “there’s nothing to do by now with LMP2 cars, it’s way different”.
Speaking to Motorsport.com, Deletraz said he was relieved that his time in the “difficult role” had concluded.
Explaining his experience of being a third driver, Deletraz said: “I’m in the car maybe every three months for four races a year, and you just come and you have to try and readapt to everything.
“The car has changed, the system has changed, and basically you can very rarely win the race, you can mostly lose it.
“So the pressure is high, you need to perform and it’s probably going to decide your future, so the role is tough.
“I’m glad that it went very well this year, so I don’t think I could be happier with it.”
He added: “It’s great that I made it through the hard year of being an endurance driver and being confirmed as a full-time [driver].
“I’m very happy and excited to be with Jordan and being a two-car team for Wayne Taylor Racing and Andretti who has been a one-car team since forever. It’s going to make us a lot stronger and I really look forward to that.”