Fernando Alonso has made it no secret that he seeks the triple crown, and having taken on this year’s Indy 500 blue-ribbon event he took his first productive steps in trying to claim the title only Graham Hill holds. Feeling he lacked in preparation for what Indianapolis threw at him, Alonso will take part in the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona in January for his first taste of sports car endurance racing. However, his ex-Renault Formula One team mate Giancarlo Fisichella has stated that, as much as Daytona may help Alonso, it will only prepare him so much for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“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,” Alonso said of Daytona, when asked why he was taking on the challenge in January. He will race in one of the United Autosports Daytona Prototype international cars alongside Lando Norris and Phil Hanson.
Fisichella is no stranger to the adapted oval circuit of Daytona, having raced in the day long event six times with one podium. Having won the GTE PRO class at Le Mans twice, it is safe to say the Italian knows what it takes to be successful in endurance racing. When he was asked if there was only so much Alonso would learn in his American outing, Fisichella did nothing but agree, saying that Daytona is fundamentally different from Circuit de la Sarthe and would not prepare Alonso fully for the main event of the World Endurance Championship.
“It’s a different circuit and different type of race,” Fisichella said. “Especially with the rules, safety cars and yellow flags, slow zones. Everything is different. At Daytona, it is really important to be on the lead lap until the last couple of hours and then it’s a real race.
“Le Mans is different. It’s important to gain an advantage as soon as you can from the beginning to the end.”
The GT driver made it clear that Alonso’s biggest challenge would be learning how to drive with multiple classes of cars on track. At the Daytona 24, four classes of cars will be racing on track at the same time. This is the same as Le Mans, but as was seen at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans there were moments around the Circuit de la Sarthe that the LMP2s were as competitive as the LMP1s. The timing of passing traffic can be just as an important factor as it was to have a reliable car to see you through the whole duration of the race.
“It’s really good to know about Alonso being there and it’s very good for motorsport, especially for the IMSA championship,” he said. Alonso is a great driver and he will learn very quickly to drive the car.” Fisichella said on the subject. “
The only problem will be the traffic with the GT cars and the slower cars and he needs to learn how to manage it, but he will get a chance to in the next test for sure.”