GARFORTH, England — United Autosports announced Thursday that Fernando Alonso will drive for the team in the 56th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, set for Jan. 26-27 at Daytona Int’l Speedway.
The double Formula One world champion, multiple F1 race winner and current McLaren pilot will race a Ligier JS P217 alongside previously-announced drivers Phil Hanson and Lando Norris.
The Rolex 24 At Daytona will mark the first time the Spaniard has raced a prototype sports car, but he is no stranger to taking part in one-off races.
Alonso entered the 2017 Indianapolis 500 with Andretti Autosport, in partnership with United Autosports principal Zak Brown and McLaren, leading for 27 laps and sitting in contention for the win until a motor failure forced him to retire with 21 laps remaining.
Now, Alonso will look to add another crown jewel of motorsport to his resume with a Rolex 24 victory.
“What an exciting and interesting project. Learning about a completely new racing category, adapting to a different car and to another style of driving and everything that goes with it, is a new challenge for me and I can’t wait to test myself again as a driver,” said Alonso. “The Daytona 24 Hours is the most iconic U.S. endurance race and one of the world’s great races. Everyone knows it. It’s not part of the Triple Crown but, as I have always said, my aim is to be a complete driver and this experience will help me in the preparation for any other endurance race I might take part in.”
“Before I went to Indy, I had never driven on an oval, and now I know what an oval is and how to deal with it. I am excited to go back and race in America. After the great time I had during the month of May for the Indy 500, I am looking forward to taking part in another legendary race that will bring back all those amazing sensations that the U.S. fans gave me. … It will be good to get behind a (steering) wheel again. Thanks to United Autosports for having offered me this opportunity and thanks to McLaren for supporting me in this new and exciting adventure.”
With two teenage companions co-driving with Alonso at Daytona, team owner and chairman Zak Brown circles the F1 champion’s vast experience in motor racing as a boon for the entire team.
“I’m thrilled we have managed to put a deal together to get Fernando in the car at Daytona,” said Brown. “Although he hasn’t driven an LMP2 car before I’m confident he will pick it up quickly. He’s one of the best drivers around so it will be great to have him as part of the team, not only for his speed, but for his experience and the invaluable knowledge he will pass onto Phil and Lando.”
United Autosports will enter two Ligier JS P217s, with Will Owen and Paul di Resta serving as teammates to Alonso, Norris and Hanson.
The Roar Before the Rolex 24 test session is set for Jan. 5-7, followed by the legendary endurance classic three weeks later.
CREDIT: United Autosports