Fernando Alonso has confirmed he WILL race in this year's Le Mans 24 Hours with Toyota as he continues his quest to win motorsport's triple crown.
The double F1 champion raced in the Indy 500 last year and will now take on Le Mans as be bids to become the first driver since Graham Hill to win those two iconic events as well as the Monaco Grand Prix - or the F1 World Championship, depending on which definition you use.
Alonso, 36, tested a Toyota LMP1 car late last year, and he has now confirmed he will join the Japanese manufacturer for Le Mans.
He has also revealed he will combine his F1 duties with McLaren, with racing for Toyota in the World Endurance Championship, though he will miss the race in Fuji as it clashes with the US Grand Prix in Austin, Texas.
Alonso said: “I’ve never been shy about my aim of winning motorsport’s ‘Triple Crown’ – the Monaco Grand Prix, the Indy 500, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. 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.”
Toyota Gazoo Racing team president Hisatake Murata said:
“This WEC season is unique because it features two editions of the Le Mans 24 Hours so we are all looking forward to it.
"I believe we have an extremely strong driver line-up with real strength in depth. Fernando is a rookie in WEC but he brings speed and experience gained from many years at the top of his sport.
"We are all excited to work with him but endurance racing is a team effort and we know all of our drivers are performing to a very high level."
McLaren team boss Zak Brown added: “It’s no secret that Fernando has wanted to contest the Le Mans 24 Hours. And I think everybody within our organisation appreciates that a motivated, hungry and happy world-class driver such as Fernando is a formidable asset for any team in F1.
“Last year, we came to the joint decision to go racing with Fernando at the Indy 500 rather than at the Monaco Grand Prix. 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.
“Like Fernando, at McLaren we’re racers at heart, and our team is built on a brave heritage of competing and succeeding in different forms of the sport. Equally important is the confidence that nothing detracts from our number one goal of Formula 1. After proper evaluation, we are satisfied that this campaign does not do that, and that McLaren’s best interests prevail.”