Fernando Alonso said he enjoyed his opening stint of his maiden 24 Hours of Le Mans, with the Spaniard spending a good number of laps in the lead of the race in the #8 Toyota Gazoo Racing LMP1 machine.
Alonso took over the seat from Swiss team-mate Sebastien Buemi and said it was a nice stint despite the Spaniard being engulfed in traffic for much of it.
“It was great,” said Alonso. “Obviously we’ve been doing a lot of laps in traffic, but nice racing, you take care of every detail.
“You want the car safe, in one piece, you take extra care in the pitlane, pitstops, you don’t want anything to go wrong.”
Alonso suffered a puncture and saw his Toyota mechanics change the rear end of the #8 machine as a precaution during his stint, with the decision to switch the bodywork as a result of light first lap contact between the car and the #1 Rebellion Racing machine of Andre Lotterer.
“We were concerned about the start, the Rebellion touched our car a little bit,” said Alonso. “So, we saw nothing wrong with the car in the first couple of stints, but just in case, the team removed it and we took a look a good look on that rear end.
“Everything seemed fine, as suspected. We refitted the original one again at one of the stops. It was just a sanity check.”
Toyota are running a comfortable one-two at the head of the field, and Alonso feels the #8 had the race under control, often being quicker than Jose Maria Lopez in the sister #7.
“I think it was under control,” said the Spaniard. “We lost a little bit of time in the pitstop, I exited the stint 14 seconds behind Pechito [Jose Maria Lopez] and then with the traffic sometimes it helps, sometimes it hurts.
“I was catching a little bit thanks to the lack of traffic, and then I had a puncture and then a safety car so we rebalanced everything again and both cars were at the exit of the pitlane, waiting for Safety Car B.
“It’s the way it is, long race, all the race will probably be like that, little bit of luck, little bit of coincidence one or another in different parts of the race.”
Alonso is next set to step into the driving seat under the cover of darkness, with the Spaniard set to experience racing in LMP1 machinery for the first time at night.