The FIA World Endurance Championship is making its maiden visit to Portugal this weekend as the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve hosts the 8 Hours of Portimao, round two of the 2021 season.
Since the series was created, a total of four drivers of Portuguese nationality have raced in the series.
They share a few important factors between them, apart from their country: each of the four have won races in the series, while three out of four have also won championships. Two of them have so far competed in the 2021 season.
49-year-old Pedro Lamy has had a long and fruitful career in all forms of motorsport, so it should come as little surprise that he shows up on this list.
After racing in Formula One between 1993-1996, Lamy turned to sportscars for a lengthy stint in both prototypes and GTs. He first raced in the FIA World Endurance Championship in 2012, with Larbre Competition.
It was while racing for the French outfit in GTE Am that he became the first Portuguese driver to win in the series when he captured a class win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. He scored two more wins later that year in Fuji and Shanghai.
After that, he linked up with Aston Martin Racing, with whom he became most synonymous during his time in the series. It proved to be an extremely fruitful relationship, as he scored 16 more wins in the series, primarily alongside Mathias Lauda and Paul Dalla Lana.
He added a GTE Am title to his resume in 2017 and last raced in the WEC as a last-minute replacement aboard the #98 Aston Martin Vantage AMR at Bahrain last November.
While Lamy might be the most successful Portuguese driver to have race in WEC, he is not the first to win a championship in the series.
That honour goes to Rui Aguias, who raced in the championship for a total of four seasons.
Aguias, not to be confused with the decorated footballer of the same name, is unique amongst his compatriot as being the only driver not to have been born in mainland Portugal, but in Nampula, Mozambique, which was still under Portuguese rule at the time.
He first joined the series in 2012 and spent the majority of his time in the championship with AF Corse, also racing in GTE Am like Lamy.
He became the first Portuguese driver to taste championship success in 2016, a year before Lamy, when he won the GTE Am title in a Ferrari 458 GT2 alongside Emmanuel Collard and Francois Perrodo.
2016 would also prove to be his last season in the series.
While Lamy and Agiuas were tearing it up in GTE machinery, Portugal’s first top prototype driver in WEC emerged in 2014.
Filipe Albuquerque raced as part of the Audi LMP1 effort and took part in a total of four rounds in 2014 and 2015. After that, he moved down one level and stepped into LMP2, where he resides to this day.
As part of the RGR Sport by Morand effort, he only just missed out on the 2016 title, taking two wins en route to second in the LMP2 standings.
After limited racing in the series in 2017 and a year out in 2018, he returned with a vengeance as part of United Autosports’ all-conquering LMP2 campaign in 2019 and 2020, taking four consecutive wins (including Le Mans) en route to the title.
He was retained by the team for 2021, won the opening round at Spa-Francorchamps, but will not be taking part in his home race due to clashing commitments with Wayne Taylor Racing in IMSA.
Antonio Felix da Costa
Portugal’s home hero this weekend. With the absence of Filipe Albuquerque, Da Costa is the only driver to represent Portugal at Portimao.
The 29-year-old Formula E champion has only been in the World Endurance Championship since 2018, but has quickly become one of its most popular drivers.
He spent the 2018/19 Super Season racing for BMW Team MTEK before moving into prototypes at JOTA, alongside Anthony Davidson and Roberto Gonzalez.
While United Autosports dominated the 2020 season, JOTA was frequently one of its closest challengers. It picked up one win and finished second three times, including at Le Mans. It ended the season third in the standings.
The Mighty 38 crew has remained unchanged for the 2021 season, but the LMP2 competition is tougher than ever. He finished second in Spa, but will surely hope to add to his tally of WEC wins and his championship cabinet.