Fernando Alonso confirmed for 24 Hours of Daytona with United Autosports
United Autosports has confirmed fielding Fernando Alonso for the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona during the January 27-28 weekend to be held at Daytona International Speedway.
The two-time Formula 1 champion joins Paul di Resta, Lando Norris, William Owen and Phil Hanson to compete for the Anglo-American outfit founded by Zak Brown and Richard Bean.
Alonso will partner Norris and Hanson to drive the Ligier JS P217s, while di Resta and Owen will team up in the second car. This will be Alonso's first foray into endurance racing, in his quest for the Triple Crown - preparing for the Le Mans 24 Hours race.
"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 US 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, 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 US fans gave me.
"Also, this race happens at a convenient time, in January, when our F1 season is off and we are mainly working on our physical preparation. It will be good to get behind a wheel again! Thanks to United Autosports for having offered me this opportunity and thanks to McLaren for supporting me in this new exciting adventure.”
Brown commented: “I’m thrilled we have managed to put a deal together to get Fernando in the car at Daytona. 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.”
Dean added: “To say we are running Fernando Alonso at Daytona for the 24-hour race is pretty special for everybody here at United Autosports. Fernando is a quality act and will take to sportscars immediately.
"He has such a wealth of racing experience and this will no doubt be a huge benefit to the team and his young team-mates throughout the week of the iconic Rolex Daytona 24 Hours. We have a very exciting line up and I expect to be very competitive.”
Having signed up with McLaren again for 2018, the Spaniard will not be able to compete in the next year's Indy 500, but has a chance to race in Le Mans - since it doesn't clash with F1.
During the last weekend's US Grand Prix, Alonso had indicated of racing in Daytona, in order to prepare for future runs in sportscar racing. He will be in action during January 5-7 when ROAR, the official test session for Rolex 24 at Daytona takes place.