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Alonso Linked to United Autosports Drive for Rolex 24

Fernando Alonso linked to United Autosports effort for Rolex 24…

Photo: McLaren

While targeting a run at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in a bid for the “Triple Crown” of motorsport, Fernando Alonso could first be making his debut in another twice-around-the-clock endurance classic this January.

Multiple sources have revealed to Sportscar365 that the two-time Formula One World Champion is closing in on a drive with United Autosports for the Rolex 24 at Daytona, in what would see Alonso line up in one of the team’s Ligier JS P217 Gibsons for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-opener.

While it’s understood a deal has yet to be reached, one source indicated that it’s currently “80 percent likely” the Spaniard would be part of the two-car effort.

Alonso would join Williams F1 driver Paul di Resta and rising open-wheel star Lando Norris, who along with Will Owen and Phil Hanson, have so far been confirmed with the Anglo-Swiss squad for the race.

When asked about the prospects of Alonso joining the team for Daytona, United Autosports co-owner and McLaren Executive Director Zak Brown didn’t rule out the possibility, although said his focus is currently on securing Alonso’s return to McLaren for next year.

“We’ve been focused on getting our F1 stuff going, which is coming together,” Brown told Sportscar365. “Then we’ll have a conversation about any extra-circular activity.

“He wants to do Le Mans. Indy’s not possible next year. We’ll focus on getting the F1 done and we’ll see if there’s any other additional events that he has a desire to do and we have a desire to do.”

Should a deal for Daytona materialize, it would mark Alonso’s long-awaited sports car racing debut, following numerous statements and hints in recent years on his desire to try his hand in prototype racing.

Brown said they’re “halfway there” on securing the full driver lineup for the race, which leaves an opportunity open should Alonso wish to commit.

“Would anyone love to have Fernando Alonso driving for them? Of course,” Brown said. “The seats aren’t filled yet. Once they get filled there wouldn’t be a seat for him.

“But as of today there would be [a seat available] if it’s something he wanted to do.”

Button Ruled Out for Daytona

The prospects of seeing former McLaren teammates Alonso and Jenson Button together at United Autosports for Daytona, meanwhile, have been ruled out according to Brown, who said Button is no longer an option for the race.

Brown told Sportscar365 in August that he was in discussions with the 2009 F1 World Champion about a possible one-off drive in the Rolex 24, prior to him being linked to the Penske Acura DPi program, which didn’t materialize.

“Jenson won’t be driving for us,” Brown said. “I don’t know what he’s going to be doing. I thought he was going to be in the Penske car. Not sure what happened there.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Jeff

    October 19, 2017 at 11:02 am

    I was at Watkins Glen this year, and one very veteran driver said: “IMSA is the only place where anyone is having any fun”

    I agree. If you watch the WEC paddock it seems Full of stern faces, and the vibe in North America is completely different.

    • Roh

      October 19, 2017 at 12:02 pm

      Probably because they know IMSA is a joke?

      • lol

        October 19, 2017 at 12:28 pm

        Another elitist Euro?

        • gtgianlu

          October 19, 2017 at 4:18 pm

          I’m Euro and I like Imsa a lot.Who doesn’t,has a big poblem with whole motorsport,though

      • J.C.

        October 19, 2017 at 2:40 pm

        lolz

    • Neunelf

      October 20, 2017 at 3:55 pm

      Why is there so much hate between IMSA and WEC? Why don’t just watching both or just IMSA if you prefer that?

  2. Punisher

    October 19, 2017 at 12:09 pm

    Really Roh? That is your comment……?
    Later!

  3. Andrew

    October 19, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    There is nothing better than watching professional drivers compete in equally matched equipment with healthy car counts. That is what IMSA has accomplished and it is fantastic. GTD is the home for Pro-am teams and they drive machinery best suited to pro am lineups.

    In the FIA the pros are in a four car parade that is equivalent to watching paint dry. And the most competitive class, LMP2 has pro am driver lineups with such wildly varying driving standards that it destroys the drama.

    I’ve been attending sports car races, particularly IMSA races for 15 years and this is the most excited and engaged I’ve ever been.

  4. gtgianlu

    October 19, 2017 at 4:20 pm

    Very likely,I reckon.Mind,Zak Brown is deeply involved in Mclaren

  5. Luc

    October 19, 2017 at 5:36 pm

    United in not on the level Alonso deserves. Only Penske is.

    • Justin Porter

      October 19, 2017 at 6:26 pm

      Dunno. Alonso seemed plenty happy with Andretti Autosport this year.

      Might just be that years of carrying sub-par cars on his back with little to show for it has meant that showing up with his helmet bag to drive any old thing and contend gives him a smile.

      Look at how much the Great Dane is enjoying himself at Goodwood.

    • David Chaste

      October 19, 2017 at 9:05 pm

      For spoetscar racing in cost capped cars United is as good as any team. Its line if you were making a cheese burger. Even with the best ingredients after a certain price point it’s really a moot point.

      If this was factory p1 cars compared to a privateer p1 then yes. Or the alien LMP2 machines in 2007 and 2008.

    • Andy Flinn

      October 23, 2017 at 12:18 pm

      Luc, despite leading early on, the Brumos beat Penske for the win at the 2009 Rolex24 in their #58. Brumos and Penske had the same equipment (Riley/Porsche DPs). Then, Brumos beat Penske at the 2009 Grand-Am season finale at Homestead with Hurley Haywood co-driving the #59.

      Penske is a great team. Their performance is legendary. However, don’t be surprised if they face stiff competition from plenty of talent in the IMSA paddock.

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