Fernando Alonso, Kamui Kobayashi signs with WTR for 2019 Daytona in Cadillac
Fernando Alonso's first assignment post the 2018 F1 hangover will be the Rolex 24 at Daytona when he and Kamui Kobayashi joins the Wayne Taylor Racing outfit.
After his debut earlier this year with United Autosports in the LMP class, Alonso will return to IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship's Daytona round during January 26-27 but with a different team.
The Spaniard will race for Wayne Taylor Racing in the #10 Cadillac DPi-V.R alongside Toyota's WEC teammate Kobayashi - who will make his debut - as they both join regulars Jordan Taylor and Renger van der Zande.
"I am very happy about joining the Konica Minolta Cadillac team and Wayne Taylor Racing to race together at the Rolex 24 At Daytona," said Alonso. "This is undoubtedly one of the greatest races in American and world motorsport.
"Returning to the United States is always special. The atmosphere created by the fans is unique throughout an incredible weekend. I really hope to fight for the win, as well as having fun and putting a smile on the fans’ faces.
"I made my debut last year both in endurance races and with these sportscar prototypes, as well as on this track. I was left wanting much more after a brake issue ended our hopes of stepping on the podium.
"After an intense year in which I’ve competed in both Formula One and the WEC, I’m really looking forward to 2019 and attempting to conquer one of the most important races in the world.
"I’m brimming with hunger and desire and I can’t wait for the first race of next season and going out on track to battle with my Konica Minolta Cadillac teammates." His WEC teammate Kobayashi is excited for his first time.
"First of all, I would like to thank the Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R team and Wayne Taylor for giving me this wonderful opportunity to race at the historic Daytona 24-hour," said the Japanese driver.
"It is one of the most popular endurance races and I am so excited to have my Daytona debut with the 2017-winning team. This will also be my first race in the U.S. and I’m really looking forward to having a good race with the Konica Minolta Cadillac team."
"It is super exciting to have Fernando and Kamui joining us for Daytona," Taylor. "I think we are bringing in two of the top drivers not just in sportscars but in the world of motorsport.
"Fernando is one of the most-respected and highly rated drivers of our time, and Kamui has been one of the top sportscar drivers over the past few years and the current lap-record holder at Le Mans. It is going to be great to have them join us.
"They have had such long, successful careers, and I’m sure there will be a lot we can learn from having them with us. We had a very strong second half to our 2018 season and finished it off with the win at the Petit Le Mans.
"So, I can’t wait to get back to the track in Daytona and start our 2019 championship on the right foot. Daytona is a unique event but one that our team has excelled at. It’s my favorite month of the year."
“Fernando Alonso is a living legend and Kamui is a great driver and we are fortunate to be able to attract the best talent in the world to our program," said van der Zande. "It shows the level of this program and it solidifies the fact I’m in the right place, which I knew already.
"Looking back at last year, I think we had the package to win the championship, but two DNFs prevented that. I think we’re in a very strong position to start the new season at Daytona and there will be a lot of buzz around us.
"At the same time, we can learn from Fernando and Kamui. They’ve been with so many different teams, so many different cars, so many different people, and to be sharing all of that with us and integrate it into our program, that is only a benefit.
"To that end, I’m very excited about it. The main goal is to win the race. That’s their goal, that’s our goal, so we’ll do everything we can together to make that happen." The team expands to four-driver line-up from the three in 2017.
"First, I have to thank Konica Minolta for yet again supporting WTR, and that I am extremely excited to have added Fernando Alonso and Kamui Kobayashi as teammates for Jordan and Renger at Daytona," said team owner Wayne Taylor.
"Both Fernando and Kamui are the cream of the crop of world-class driving talent, not only in F1 but as current sportscar drivers. It’s taken a long time to put this all together and I’d like to thank everybody who made it all happen.
"Fernando drove at Daytona last year, and it’ll be the first time at the 24-hour for Kamui, who is a superstar driver who will figure it out quickly. We have plans to integrate both drivers into our program very efficiently and successfully. I’m absolutely ecstatic that we have been able to make this happen, and I can’t wait to get to Daytona."
[Note: This story was also written by me on Formula Rapida]