DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — After notching his third victory in the Rolex 24 At Daytona in January, Filipe Albuquerque received the highest honors available in his native Portugal when he was presented with Commander of the Order of Merit by Portugal President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa last week.
The award is given to Portuguese citizens to “distinguish meritorious acts or services that reveal selflessness in favor of the community, practiced in the exercise of any functions, public or private.” The ceremony took place Thursday at the Belém Palace, the official residence of the nation’s president, where Albuquerque and his family met with Rebelo de Sousa.
Officially, the honor was to commemorate Albuquerque’s sensational 2020 season in international Le Mans Prototype 2 competition. The 35-year-old was the class winner at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and captured both the 2019-20 FIA World Endurance Championship and 2020 European Le Mans Series championships in LMP2.
But having the ceremony take place just four days after Albuquerque drove the No. 10 Konica Minolta Racing Acura ARX-05 DPi across the finish line for the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) and overall triumph in the season opener for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship made the honor even more special.
“I’m really honored,” Albuquerque said. “Last year, I had already received a call from the president congratulating me after my 24 Hours of Le Mans win. Then I received a message from his assistant that I would go to the Belém Palace to meet him and receive the award.
“I’m incredibly honored. I will never forget it and will have it at home with great pride. It means that I’m doing things right and the country is watching my results which is very good, especially when things are hard in Portugal due to COVID.”
The Rolex 24 victory was Albuquerque’s third in the historic endurance event. He won in the GT class in 2013 and followed that with an overall and Prototype class victory in 2018. This year, he and Wayne Taylor Racing co-drivers Ricky Taylor, Alexander Rossi and Helio Castroneves succeeded against a stacked DPi field.