Alonso talked Daytona 24 Hours 'two minutes' after new McLaren F1 deal
|By Charles Bradley||Thursday, October 26th 2017, 16:10 GMT|
Fernando Alonso asked to race in January's Daytona 24 Hours "two minutes" after renewing his Formula 1 contract with McLaren, says executive director Zak Brown.
Alonso will race for Brown's sportscar team United Autosports in the 2018 edition of the American sportscar classic, sharing a top-class Ligier LMP2 car with McLaren F1 junior Lando Norris and Phil Hanson.
The drive is part of what Brown calls Alonso's "quest to win Le Mans" and says the double world champion mentioned racing at Daytona mere moments after signing a deal to race for McLaren in F1 again next season.
Brown said: "We were in Singapore, got our F1 deal done, and as soon as we mentally crossed the bridge of getting that sealed, it wasn't two minutes later before he said, 'I wanna do Daytona.'
"As Fernando does, he kinda chats about things, doesn't really tell you what he's thinking, and then out of the blue he goes: 'I wanna do it.' That is exactly what happened."
Alonso's plan to race at Daytona is independent of McLaren involvement, unlike the deal he struck to contest this year's Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport.
"Fernando and I now have this relationship where we are two guys who always think about racing, 24/7," Brown added.
"While a lot of people are out on Friday night, indulging in a variety of social activities, it seems Fernando and I are trading texts on race helmet designs, or sharing pictures of cool cars and races.
"As I spend more time around him, it's amazing to see the amount of research he does. He thinks things through, and clearly wants to win Daytona as part of his quest to win Le Mans.
"And when you look at United's line-up - we've got some pretty cool drivers in our cars, including Paul di Resta and Lando [Norris]."
United will 'bring its A-game'
Alonso has already stated his target of achieving motorsport's Triple Crown of winning the Monaco Grand Prix (which he has done twice before), the Indy 500 and the Le Mans 24 Hours.
Brown says United Autosports, which finished fourth in the LMP2 division and fifth overall at Le Mans this year, will "bring our A-game" to Daytona, in a bid to ensure Alonso stands the best possible chance of winning the event.
"The aim is definitely to go there with the intention of trying to win, otherwise Fernando wouldn't wanna do it!" Brown said.
"I think it's going to be the toughest 24 Hours of Daytona in modern history, based on the quality of the teams and drivers on the entry.
"A couple of Penskes, a couple of Joests, Wayne Taylor, Action Express, ESM, Rebellion - going through the list there's likely 12 cars in with a shot of pole, never mind winning the race.
"I don't think Fernando would want to drive anything other than the top class car, to go for the overall win, so we're going to bring our A-game, and it's going to be awesome."