McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team driver Fernando Alonso will return to racing in America in January 2018, when he contests the Rolex 24 at Daytona with United Autosports.
Having recently tried his hand at the Indy 500, where he was in with a shot of winning the race before suffering an engine failure, despite no prior testing, the Spaniard will return stateside for some sports car action.
Alonso, who recently confirmed he would be staying with the Woking based squad for at least one more year, will drive alongside fellow McLaren racer Lando Norris, in CEO Zak Brown‘s team.
The iconic event does not clash with any racing on the Formula 1 calendar as it takes place during the sports pre-season, but Alonso’s first try out in the car will take place in the week preceding the 2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
There will also be a further chance for the Spaniard to get himself acquainted with the sports car set-up ahead of the main event, at the Roar before the 24 test, held on January 5 – 7.
Alonso sees the race as a chance to hone his endurance skills and prepare ahead of a possible entry into the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the near future, with the 2018 race not yet out of the question.
Speaking to Racer.com at the recent United States Grand Prix, Alonso re-confirmed his desire to achieve the Triple Crown, and explained how he has now caught the bug for testing his driving skills in other motor sports series.
“As I said many times, the Triple Crown is the main thing. I know that the Indy 500 was a nice thing and I felt very competitive, but it was a big challenge that I took from zero, with no testing and no similar racing experience before the Indy 500 at any other oval, it was a big challenge.
“I was competitive and it felt good but if I want to prepare for Le Mans maybe there are other possibilities to prepare Le Mans a little bit better [than I did for] the Indy 500.”
United Autosports will run two cars, with Alonso and Norris being joined at Daytona by Phil Hanson, the youngest ever driver to finish in the top ten at the 24 Hours Le Mans, at the age of seventeen, whilst Paul Di Resta will team up with Will Owen in the sister car, with the rest of the line-up yet to be finalised.
It has also been confirmed by Racer.com that Jenson Button turned down the chance to drive for United Autosports, but has not yet completely ruled out racing at Daytona.