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01/31 2018

F1 GREAT FERNANDO ALONSO COMMITS TO 24 HOURS OF LE MANS WITH TOYOTA McLaren driver got first taste of endurance race at Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona BY:  SAM HALL

Alonso

 

Fernando Alonso will be taking his talents to Le Mans in June.
PHOTO BY LAT PHOTOGRAPHIC

 

McLaren F1 driver and two-time Formula 1 champion Fernando Alonso will race in the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans in his attempt to capture a second leg of racing’s triple crown.

Given that he competed at Indianapolis in 2017, speculation had been rapidly growing as to when Alonso would mount an assault on Le Mans. Speculation only continued to grow when he attended the World Endurance Championship rookie test in November and then reached fever pitch when he was confirmed for the IMSA Rolex 24 at Daytona. For the Spaniard, it must be a relief that the news is now out in the open.

Alonso will race with Toyota Gazoo Racing Team, the manufacturer with whom he completed the rookie test, in a program which consists of four WEC rounds — the highlight, of course, being Le Mans.

“I’ve never been shy about my aim of winning the triple crown,” said Alonso. “We tried for Indy last year, came close, but just missed out.

“This year, I have the chance thanks to McLaren to race for the win at Le Mans. It is a big challenge — much can go wrong — but I am ready, prepared and looking forward to the fight.

“My deal to race in WEC was only made possible through the good understanding and strong relationship I have with McLaren, and I’m very happy that they listened and understood what this means to me.

“In no way will this challenge take away from my main target of Formula 1 with McLaren. In 2018, my aim is to be competitive at every Grand Prix, and I feel sure that we are closer to achieving that.”

When competing at Indianapolis, Alonso was forced to miss the Monaco Grand Prix, but there will be no such compromise this year. McLaren, now racing under Renault power, is hopeful for a sharp upturn in form and results.

“Last year, we came to the joint decision to go racing with Fernando at the Indy 500 rather than at the Monaco Grand Prix,” said McLaren executive director Zak Brown. “But we’ve always said that we would consider each opportunity on a case-by-case basis, and we both know that, in 2018, our core priority is success in Formula 1.

“After proper evaluation, we are satisfied that this campaign does not (compromise the F1 effort) and that McLaren’s best interests prevail.”

Alonso finished 13th in his class on his endurance racing debut in Daytona, where he competed for Brown’s United Autosport team alongside Phil Hanson and McLaren reserve driver Lando Norris.