Fernando Alonso qualified for his first Rolex 24 at Daytona in thirteenth position, just under a second off the pole time of Renger van der Zande, but the Spaniard admitted it was the least important qualifying session of his career.
Alonso has joined United Autosports this weekend in the #23 Ligier JS P217 alongside Lando Norris and Phil Hanson for the twice-around-the-clock challenge at the Daytona International Speedway, but the two-time Formula 1 World Champion says there is plenty of time to move forward compared to what he is used to in his usual racing programme.
“Knowing it’s a 24-hour race, it was probably the least important qualifying of my life until now,” said Alonso. “Normally I have 60 laps or 70 laps to recover what I did in qualifying; on Saturday we have 24 Hours.
“Qualifying was not the key point of this weekend, hopefully.”
Alonso was happy to be the fastest Ligier qualifier, ahead of the sister #32 machine of Bruno Senna, Paul di Resta, Will Owen and Hugo de Sadeleer, and he made use of having a relatively clear track thanks to the Qualifying sessions for the three classes being separate to one another.
“I think it was a good session for us,” said Alonso. “It was nice to have some laps finally in the car with no traffic, in free practice there was a lot of traffic and a lot of things go on, but in the prototype qually you can put some laps together and get used to the car a little bit more.
“I was happy with the laps, more or less happy with the balance. We still need to improve a bit to find a bit more speed, in general, I think we need a good job.
“Happy to be fastest Ligier, by a good margin, we have top guys in our team – Bruno Senna is the world champion in LMP2 – he’s in the other car. We felt competitive and we achieved the maximum.”