Fernando Alonso cautiously optimistic about Daytona 24
For Fernando Alonso to drive for them, teams move mountains and championships shift their schedules. Ferrari did all they could to hire him for 2010 including paying Kimi Raikkonen to sit a year out, despite him being on contract.
Currently, even when not competing in Formula 1, he is an in-demand man with his popularity seemingly always on the rise in the USA, following his involvement in IndyCar and Daytona this season. It hence seems logical for Wayne Taylor Racing to quickly sign him up as he makes his second appearance at Daytona 24 in two years; he is quick and he is popular.
Alonso had entered last year’s event – his first endurance race – as part of his preparation for Le Mans 24 Hours with Toyota. He won that race to complete the second leg of the unofficial triple crown of motor racing; only the Indy 500 remains to be won.
The double F1 world champion competed for McLaren boss Zak Brown’s United Autosports in 2018 but was never in contention for the win driving a Ligier.
Alonso returns with Wayne Taylor Racing, the team which won last year with Renger van der Zande, Jordan Taylor and Kamui Kobayashi as team-mates aboard a Cadillac Dpi-V.R. The three of them were already on-board when Alonso expressed his interest. Team owner Wayne Taylor spoke about how the Alonso deal fell into place:
Zak introduced me to Fernando (at Daytona 2018) and, a couple of weeks later, I inquired if he was available for this year. Over the next several months, it looked like a possibility, and then it went away. Then, some time later, through McLaren and Zak, all of a sudden I got a text asking if there’s still a seat for Fernando. I said, ‘I’ll make one available'.
The upcoming Daytona event is the first of Alonso’s races in 2019. He also has an eye on winning the triple crown of endurance racing (Sebring and Daytona) after Le Mans, apart from the WEC title with Toyota and the Indianapolis 500. Despite starting as a front-runner, the Spaniard is cautious in his optimism, taking into account the vagaries of 24-hour racing. He said:
“Formula 1 is all about qualifying and the first lap, the start, the first corner. Here, it’s more about consistency, about traffic management, keeping the car safe and alive for the last couple of hours, so it’s a different approach to racing.The targets are higher this year but, at the same time, I know how these 24-hour races work, how difficult it is to predict all the things that will happen in 24 hours."