With Fernando Alonso set to make his sportscar debut in the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, the two-time Formula 1 World Champion has had his first taste of the Ligier JS P217 he will race in for United Autosports at Motorland Aragon.
Having experienced LMP1 machinery for the first time at the Bahrain International Circuit on Monday with Toyota Gazoo Racing ahead of a possible 24 Hours of Le Mans debut next June with the Japanese squad, Alonso flew directly to Spain to run the LMP2 machinery for the first time, alongside his team-mate for Daytona, Phil Hanson, while Felipe Albuquerque was also on hand for advice.
Alonso completed 98-laps of the Motorland Aragon circuit, covering 483 kilometres as he adjusted to life as a LMP2 driver, experiencing different set-ups and downforce configurations, as well as low and high-fuel runs and Qualifying and Race stint simulations.
“I had a great first test with United Autosports,” said Alonso. “Obviously, we are on a really tight schedule between now and Daytona, but it was nice to jump in the car for the first time.
“There’s quite a few switches and things to study so it was important to do this initial shakedown before Daytona, so I could fully learn about the car. I’m happy with everything – the car felt great and the team were fantastic.
“The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so today has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”
Richard Dean, the Team Owner and Managing Director of United Autosports, said it should not have been too much of a surprise for someone of Alonso’s talent and stature should adapt so quickly to the LMP2 machinery, and he cannot wait to see how the Spaniard, Hanson and Lando Norris fair during January’s race.
“We’ve had a good first test with Fernando,” said Dean. “We shouldn’t be surprised that it took him no time at all to get used to the car and the circuit having never driven here.
“He immediately got down to really competitive times and set to work understanding the car and doing long runs and race distance stuff – hugely impressive.”