Fernando Alonso will race in the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona with the United Autosports Team.
The 2005/2006 F1 Champion will be piloting a Ligier JS P217 with Asian Le Mans LMP3 Champion Phil Hanson and current McLaren young driver Lando Norris.
This will be Alonso’s first ever sports car race and the second iconic American event he has entered after taking part in last year’s Indy 500.
The McLaren driver’s participation in the Daytona 24 Hours is part of his bid to gain motor racing’s triple crown as the race will give him experience of endurance racing which will put him in good stead for a Le Mans 24 Hours bid.
Alonso is looking at bids to enter the 2018 event, which does not clash with any F1 events, but any attempt at overall victory will have to come with an invitation from the Toyota Prototype team and not United Autosports LMP2 team.
“What an exciting and interesting project.” said Alonso. “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.
“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.”
Zak Brown the Co-Owner and Chairman of United Autosports and Alonso’s McLaren team boss said “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.”
Co-Owner and Managing Director of United Autosports Richard 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.”
Daytona International Speedway President Chip Wile is also happy to welcome the Formula 1 champion to the circuit, “The
“Over the years, champion drivers from various racing disciplines such as NASCAR,
“Daytona International Speedway welcomes the participation of two-time Formula 1 champion Fernando Alonso in one of sports cars’ most demanding and iconic events – the Rolex 24.”