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DAGYS: The Alonso Effect

John Dagys explores the knock-on effect Fernando Alonso’s arrival has made…

Photo: United Autosports

The sports car racing headlines have been dominated by one driver as of late, whose presence has now, quite literally, resulted in significant changes being made to our sport.

But is it all for the better?

Many would argue that Fernando Alonso’s new-found interest in endurance racing is nothing but good for our rather niche form of motorsport, which often gets overshadowed by the likes of Formula 1, NASCAR and even IndyCar in North America.

While it’s a slightly different situation in Europe, sports car racing is still minuscule in the overall scheme of global sporting events, despite the high visibility of the 24 Hours of Le Mans every June.

His addition to the grid has no doubt brought some extra attention and eyeballs, but is it everything that series promoters are hoping for, or perhaps gambling on, to really be?

Rumors of the two-time F1 world champion having a go at Le Mans, and potentially the FIA World Endurance Championship, had been around for years, and the Spaniard hasn’t hidden his ambition of broadening his horizons.

Alonso’s debut in the Indianapolis 500 last year served as the first step in his quest to become only the second driver to achieve the unofficial ‘Triple Crown’ of motorsport, with victories at Indianapolis, Le Mans and the Monaco Grand Prix.

Things kicked into high gear late last year when he tested a LMP1 car for the first time, in the WEC Bahrain Rookie Test with Toyota Gazoo Racing.

It was there, in a very public setting, that it became clear that we would likely see Alonso make his Le Mans debut this year with the Japanese manufacturer. 

His first race at the wheel of a prototype, however, came five months earlier at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, as part of United Autosports’ lineup in a Ligier JS P217 Gibson, in a team co-owned by Alonso’s F1 boss Zak Brown.

While much fanfare surrounded his debut, it was Alonso’s co-driver, rising open-wheel star Lando Norris, that turned heads within the Anglo-American team for his impressive pace, often turning quicker laps than his much more accomplished teammate.

Within 48 hours of his Rolex 24 run came confirmation that Alonso would indeed be part of Toyota’s lineup at Le Mans, but also for all non-conflicting WEC races. 

Alonso-mania had kicked into high gear, and series boss Gerard Neveu appeared certain to take advantage of the opportunity.

With Alonso committed to four of the five WEC races in the calendar year for the 2018/19 ‘Super Season’, only the Six Hours of Fuji, scheduled for Oct. 19-21, clashed with an F1 race, the U.S. Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas.

Increasing pressure, including from the Toyota-owned Fuji Speedway, led to the WEC quietly confirming a date change for the Japanese round on Friday, moving the event up by one week for Alonso to take part in Toyota’s home race.

While it may sound like a “logical” decision on paper, as Neveu stated, the ripple effect it’s created has left many questioning where the WEC’s priorities are at. 

That’s because the date change puts the Fuji race back on the same weekend as the Motul Petit Le Mans, an event that sees significant international participation, including from a number of full-time WEC drivers.

What’s more, the Fuji 2018 date, originally scheduled for Petit Le Mans weekend, was moved in September to specifically eliminate the clash with the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale.

The difference, some five months later, comes down to decision made to accommodate a single driver that now leaves a dozen others, as well as crew members, support staff and media with conflicting plans, after being told the clash had been averted.

Is Alonso big enough to ignore some of sports car racing’s leading drivers such as Olivier Pla, Nico Lapierre, Harry Tincknell and Mike Conway, who all have contractual obligations to now be in two places at once?

Would the WEC had changed the date if it was any other single driver? Frankly, I’d find that to be highly unlikely.

And that’s where the line needs to be drawn. A championship cannot, and should not, make potential career-impacting changes based on the schedule of a single driver, no matter his or her stature in the motorsports world.

Drivers who had been assured by the WEC five months ago of no clash, and therefore setting their 2018 plans into motion, are now faced with the nearly impossible task of having to select one race over the other.

It could result in contracts being void and drivers losing their rides, or missing out on the chance to win a championship by year or seasons’ end.

All to accommodate one person. 

Do we really believe Alonso’s arrival will instantly turn Le Mans and the WEC into household names?

Given his impact at Daytona, which saw slightly decreased U.S. TV ratings year-to-year, I’m frankly very skeptical that a single driver can have that big of an impact on a championship, especially in the short-term.

That’s what makes this decision even more questionable, and sets a dangerous precedent moving forward.

Should the 2019 F1 schedule clash with a WEC race next year, will that mean further changes to the 2018/19 calendar? Will Sebring, Spa or even Le Mans have to be moved?

This opens a whole new can of worms, and one that’s quite concerning in the motorsports landscape. 

While Alonso’s entry into the endurance racing world has been a welcome addition by nearly everyone, I don’t believe he’s the savior that some are making him out to be.

Scheduling conflicts happen, but the ‘Alonso Effect’ has gone too far, and needs to be addressed now before it spirals out of control and impacts the long-term health of the sport.

For all we know, granted Alonso wins Le Mans this year or in 2019, he could very well be off to new pastures in his personal quest, and leave the sports car racing world picking up the pieces.

The views and opinions expressed on this web site are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Sportscar365.com, John Dagys Media, LLC and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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

87 Comments

87 Comments

  1. IHaveTwoQuestions

    February 10, 2018 at 10:14 am

    Bad decision by the WEC. Not fair to other drivers. I hope the majority of Motorsports media attends Petit Le Mans.

    • AudiTT

      February 10, 2018 at 1:12 pm

      Most of the motorsport world doesn’t have any idea what Petit Le Mans is.

      Even amongst European sports car fans it’s been somewhat off the radar for a decade, with no TV coverage and little specialist media coverage, i.e. a page or two in Autosport.

      • Trevor

        February 10, 2018 at 3:34 pm

        The world will know now. Prioritizing one new driver over a dozen established teams is the kind of BS that could drive those teams to other series.

        • AudiTT

          February 10, 2018 at 6:58 pm

          The WEC prioritised the paddock, it’s fans, sponsors and media partners. It would be a dereliction of duty not to maximise the series potential. ot only for the short-term good of the series, but long-term growth. You cannot underestimate the impact of media outlets like the BBC covering sports car racing.

          WEC had a far more pressing concern when Nurburgring clashed with FE in New York. Situations like this are the priority to avoid. Avoiding IMSA is also a target, but that series has a dozen rounds, and WEC also needs to ensure it gives space to the ELMS.

          There’s already a clash with Spa and Mid-Ohio, Van De Zender will miss the WEC as he has a commitment in IMSA.

          • Tim Lawrence

            February 11, 2018 at 2:02 am

            The BBC covering Sportscar racing? It couldn’t manage to hold onto F1 so it’s hardly likely to give Sportscar racing a thought.

            This date change was a monumental error of judgement by WEC brought about to appease their one remaining manufacturer.

          • Andy Flinn

            February 13, 2018 at 12:34 pm

            AudiTT, are you serious?

            If the WEC is worried about schedule clashes with FE, it’s in much worse shape than I thought.

            By the way, whose schedule was released first – IMSA’s or the WEC’s?

      • Trevor

        February 10, 2018 at 4:34 pm

        The issue isn’t how popular the IMSA series is. The issue is that the WEC has forced several drivers to choose which contract they’ll break. Several of those drivers could be in the hunt for a championship in both series plus the NAEC. I can guarantee that Alonso will not be competing for an F1 title.
        The WEC is bending over backwards for Toyota, which makes me think that they knew the fix was in on this move before Alonso signed on.

      • Steven

        February 10, 2018 at 6:48 pm

        What? Petit Le Mans gets a packed house for attendance each year since 2011. The ILMC really helped make this event into a must go.

        Only Sebring I think can boast better numbers for the US races.

        • AudiTT

          February 10, 2018 at 7:00 pm

          No one disputes PLM’s trackside attendance. But it no longer has the sort of international profile bit once had in ALMS and ILMC. You can see that by the number of non IMSA regulars who join vs years past. It’s also reflected in the lack of international media coverage.

          • Tim Lawrence

            February 11, 2018 at 2:07 am

            Lack of media coverage? So live international video streaming on imsatv, radio coverage from Hindy’s crew, etc. is a lack of coverage? Just because an F1-obsessed paper comic doesn’t give it front-cover priority?

      • Matt

        February 10, 2018 at 11:18 pm

        More of the motorsport world knows what Petit Le Mans is vs. the WEC at Fuji which nobody watches

        • AudiTT

          February 11, 2018 at 12:30 am

          Like many in North American, you have an over inflated view of your own sports and their relevance across the globe. In the biggest motorsport publication in Europe, (Autosport magazine), PLM will get a one or two page report, and no TV coverage.

          Fuji 6hrs/1000k has a history dating back to the 1960’s, and is one of the historic Japanese motorsport events.

          • Tim Lawrence

            February 11, 2018 at 2:13 am

            Fuji race only restarted in 2012, since when 1/3 of the events have been hit by the region’s capricious weather. One race didn’t even start and last year was shortened due to torrential rain. Hardly a stunning record, is it?

          • jareth Belanger

            February 11, 2018 at 8:43 am

            >>implying the majority of people get their information from magazines and pay sites these days.

            >>also implying that autosport hasn’t been a complete F1 shill for the last 30 years.

          • Matt

            February 11, 2018 at 8:44 pm

            In case you haven’t noticed, people get their news from the internet, where Petit is covered much more heavily than the Fuji 6 hours. The old Fuji 1000km was once a popular race because the track was awesome. It hasn’t been this way for decades. Petit on the other hand has had many great races with very close competition and heavy involvement from manufacturers and fans alike. Not to mention the Road Atlanta track is a much better track. I personally can’t stand watching most WEC races because the Tilke tracks are extremely boring and the competition is lacking.

          • Phil88

            February 13, 2018 at 7:24 am

            Your idea of sportscar coverage probably starts and finishes with Sportscars365. In the wider word there a far larger motorsport outlets like AutoHebdo, Autosport.Web (Japan), BBC, Sky etc., that give PLM as much coverage as the average Blancpain or Aussie V8 round. It’s a domestic series and international coverage reflects that.

      • Andy Flinn

        February 13, 2018 at 12:29 pm

        AudiTT, a decade? Really?

        The precursor to the WEC raced at the Petit as recently as 2011 with Audi, Peugeot, Rebellion and many others.

        Anyway, teams like Penske, Joest, ESM and WTR (the first Petit winners in 1998) will be competing at the Petit this year.

        So if you weren’t paying attention then or now you just don’t like endurance sports car racing.

  2. Marc

    February 10, 2018 at 10:39 am

    To me the driver most affected is Alonso’s Toyota teammate Mike Conway, who will be forced to miss Petit. Toyota in the aim to have Alonso at Fuji negatively affected one of their other Toyota drivers… Hmmm

    • Nick1

      February 10, 2018 at 10:44 am

      Also Kamui Kobayashi, who is racing in SuperGT

      • Marc

        February 10, 2018 at 10:51 am

        Good point, forgot about Kamui’s Super GT deal. Toyota doing this raises the question of playing favorites amongst it’s drivers. Which might work in F1, but when you have 3 drivers per car… That sounds like a bad situation.

      • gtgianlu

        February 10, 2018 at 3:48 pm

        And Nakajima too

    • TF110

      February 10, 2018 at 1:03 pm

      Autopolis’s original date will be brought back. It won’t conflict with the Fuji round. You can be sure of that. Toyota is one of the 3 brands that make up GT500 so they will certainly move it back to the original date.

  3. Not Wayne's Estes

    February 10, 2018 at 10:43 am

    Move Sebring? Stop your BLASPHEMY John Dagys!

    NASCAR will end up doing it in the end – to diminish the impact of America’s Greatest Sports Car Race.

    • Larry

      February 10, 2018 at 12:07 pm

      Not Wayne, he is talking about the WEC round at Sebring, which I wish they would move.

      WEC does not have the power to alter the IMSA schedule.

  4. TailsLeMans722

    February 10, 2018 at 10:52 am

    This is one of those occasions where the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

    I really hope a solution can be found to this clash, but somehow I doubt it.

  5. Andrew Pyke

    February 10, 2018 at 10:54 am

    Have the same opinion John.. Atherton must be livid! Not only for the drivers, and crew but the move also shows considerable disrespect for IMSA.

  6. TuckerC

    February 10, 2018 at 11:14 am

    I agree with J. Dagys. Frankly, I could care less about Alonso’s involvement in sports car racing and now that he has screwed up Petit, I wish he would go back to the soap opera that is F1.

    • learntouseEnglish

      February 10, 2018 at 12:10 pm

      So, Tucker, since you COULD CARE LESS, you must care some.

      • Slow

        February 10, 2018 at 2:55 pm

        “could care less”is a sarcastic phrase, the lack of so many on the internet to understand this is dumb founding.

        • Trevor

          February 10, 2018 at 3:46 pm

          Sorry to bed “that guy”, but how is “could care less” sarcastic? It’s just another typical misuse of the English language, like “your/you’re”.

        • Matt

          February 10, 2018 at 4:09 pm

          No, the phrase is “couldn’t care less”. Always has been, in fact.

        • Rob

          February 11, 2018 at 9:27 am

          This definition which is inaccurate proves that your name is accurate

    • Rob

      February 11, 2018 at 9:23 am

      Talk about a tempest in a teapot

  7. Eric

    February 10, 2018 at 11:17 am

    Luckily for us Jon Dagus does not make the decisions…

    • ericisnotascleverashethinks

      February 10, 2018 at 12:11 pm

      Eric, is that supposed to be clever?

      If so, you failed miserably.

    • Matt

      February 10, 2018 at 11:28 pm

      Lol what??? Dagy’s is politely stating that the WEC is idiotic for screwing over all its other drivers/team just to accomodate Alonso. Seems like you’re the type of guy who should be working at the FIA since you love idiotic decisions.

  8. Louis

    February 10, 2018 at 11:17 am

    I’ve said it before, Neveau’s arrogance will be his downfall!

  9. Rory

    February 10, 2018 at 11:25 am

    Loic Duval would be racing at the final round of the DTM season at Hockenheim for Audi that weekend so he’d miss Fuji too

  10. Dan

    February 10, 2018 at 11:29 am

    This won’t be a popular opinion.This article is being more a little overdramatic, a trend we are seeing more and more in the media as they try to get higher ratings and to stir up people.

    The ACO/FIA had originally tried to move it to avoid a clash but then moved it back due the request of Toyota, I highly doubt Alonso told them to do it. Toyota is their sole remaining P1H team and it’s track they own, so of course they want Alonso, there. Like it or not his presence will likely put a few more butts in seats and gain more media attention especially if he wins.

    Also I can’t help but feel if IMSA did something similar at the behest of say GM or Ford so one of their NASCAR stars could race in IMSA, Mr Dagys would have the opposite opinion and be fully behind IMSA, as they know what’s best.

    While it is not great that the two races clash, it is what is so you can either make that best of it or throw a tantrum.

    • Eric

      February 10, 2018 at 12:09 pm

      Spot on.

      • ericisnotascleverashethinks

        February 10, 2018 at 12:19 pm

        Wow Eric, your comments have been scintillating……………nah, not really.

        • Eric

          February 10, 2018 at 1:24 pm

          Is that you John?

      • Jenner

        February 10, 2018 at 12:32 pm

        IMSA would move Petit if say Dale Jr or Danica had a conflict.

        BTW: I was at Daytona, Alonzo drew more than a just a few butts. He was like Elvis. I’ve never seen a driver get hounded and swarmed like that ever. And this was in the US, can u imagine what it’s going to b like Japan?

        F1, ACO, IMSA, FE, everyone, needs to sit in one room and plan their schedules. It’s doable if they work together.

        • NaBUru38

          February 10, 2018 at 3:11 pm

          “IMSA would move Petit if say Dale Jr or Danica had a conflict”

          I certainly dont think so.

        • Haskellb

          February 11, 2018 at 1:41 pm

          They did communicate Jenner. WEC knew about IMSA’s schedule while they were still determining the order the “Super Season”. Then the WEC announce the Fuji race on the same weekend as the Petite Le Mans. After significant fan/team/driver backlash they moved it to the next weekend. After significant Toyota push back they changed the date again to conflict with the Petite. This is the same flavor of foolishness as when F1 allowed Renault to dictate the current engine formula.

    • poorwiddledan

      February 10, 2018 at 12:17 pm

      You gotta be kidding. One driver or one manufacturer, everyone else is having to deal with the consequences.

      So what if Toyota is the remaining hybrid team. It’s still one too many and the series should not be catering to them in this manner.

      Lemme guess, Toyota fan? Alonso fan?

      Yeah, your opinion is unpopular because it’s as self-centered as the decision by WEC.

      That last part about IMSA and NASCAR really is the icing on the cake of stupidity.

      • Matt

        February 10, 2018 at 11:32 pm

        Exactly. Not to mention Japanese fans have already seen Alonso a million times at the Japanese GP. It’s a really stupid decision in every aspect.

        • Jordan

          February 11, 2018 at 4:51 pm

          How many times have US fans seen Alonso race at the US GP?

          • Matt

            February 11, 2018 at 8:51 pm

            Not many. He raced in the USGP at Indy a few times, but the current USGP is in Texas, which is hard to access for most US racing fans considering the size of the country. Most of the US sports car/F1 fans live on the east or west coasts. The central/Mid-west US is moreso dominated by Nascar and short dirt track racing fans.

    • Frank

      February 10, 2018 at 12:27 pm

      Dan, I disagree with you but were making a valid point until you came up with that NASCAR crap. Then you lost all credibility.

    • AudiTT

      February 10, 2018 at 1:15 pm

      Absolutely correct.

    • John

      February 10, 2018 at 4:13 pm

      It would be an equally bad idea if IMSA, or any other sanctioning body altered its schedule for the sake of a driver. To my recollection, it has never been done before, in any major series.

      Prior to this, no one could say with certainly that would happen, but now that the can of worms has been opened by the FIA and Toyota, others may not be afraid to cross that line.

      It also tips the balance even further in favor of the OEMs, who may now be emboldened to make further demands on sanctioning bodies and series for their own benefit. People here have already been up in arms about the influence they feel Ford had on the ACO, GM on IMSA, and now Toyota on the FIA. Now, it goes beyond BOP, and has infected schedule making as well. Is that desirable?

      It’s not about the FIA, IMSA, Toyota, GM or whomever. It’s a bad idea, and a bad precedent, that’s why people are against it.

      And it’s going to look even worse if Toyota and/or Alonso cuts and runs if they get their LM24 victory.

      A lot of folks seem to be missing the bigger picture. Alonso’s participation, while great, is but a fleeting moment. But sports car racing will have to live with the effects forever, and as this commentary points out, the good isn’t likely to outweigh the bad.

    • Davide

      February 10, 2018 at 4:49 pm

      This is the best analysis that I read so far.
      The clash isn’t a good thing…but it’s not the first time and will not be the last.
      Nobody remember the clashes with Formula E or DTM?
      Or Formula 1?
      IMSA (or also other championships) would have done the same…this decision is logical and it’s the best decision for the WEC.
      The real Alonso effect is to add unecessary drama and media exposure on a decision that is the more logical for a championship.

      • FlyingLobster27

        February 11, 2018 at 10:37 am

        “The real Alonso effect is to add unecessary drama” – Alonso in a nutshell.
        Have you followed his career? The disgusting stuff he’s done or benefited from? He’s only doing the Triple Crown out of spite for his F1 fortunes; his chances of another F1 title are fading as no competitive team will hire him, because he’s just isn’t worth the hassle, even once you take into account the quality of his driving.

        Toyota weren’t wrong to ask for it, but the WEC were wrong to do it. I’m with John: the basic principle that no one driver or team is bigger than the sport has not been upheld in the grossest and clearest of ways. That’s not some footnote loose guideline, that’s a sine qua non condition for keeping your organisation sane.

    • Rob

      February 11, 2018 at 9:25 am

      Alonso is more accomplished than any other driver in the series. There a reason it has did little coverage. The author is trolling because he doesn’t like the attention Alonso gets. Too bad

  11. David-p1

    February 10, 2018 at 11:36 am

    Excellent piece; totally agree. Thank you John for taking a stand on this. Neveau shows no loyalty to drivers, personal and media that have participated in WEC. WEC/ACO have shafted IMSA at every opportunity. I want IMSA to cancel WEC’s ridiculous midnight race at Sebring next year. Petit Le Mans is a bigger race than Fuji so hoping all affected choose to be at Road Atlanta. I have my tickets.

  12. Kevin Euro

    February 10, 2018 at 12:27 pm

    Stop complaining Its their championship and they can do with it what they want. You sound like cry babies .If you don’t like WEC or ACO do not watch the races after all the rest world enjoy it.

    • Matt

      February 10, 2018 at 11:36 pm

      The rest of the world doesn’t give a fuq about the WEC at a junk track like Fuji. Petit Le Mans is a much bigger race and this isn’t dair to screw over the regular sports car drivers to accomodate one person, no matter how you twist. You’re clearly a Euro snob

      • Davide

        February 11, 2018 at 3:19 am

        I live in Italy, and to be honest “the rest of the world” don’t give a fuq about sportscar in general.
        All the world watch F1. USA watch NASCAR go around in a tub.
        On top of that , there are the great events like Le Mans, rally Montecarlo, Dakar or Indy.
        Sportscar are for real petrolhead, no matter where they come from. I watch WEC, IMSA, ELMS, VLN, Blancpain, WRC.
        And it’s a shame to have a clash with Petit Le Mans…PLM it’s for sure a greater events than 6h Fuji.
        But the WEC is the most important championship, the levels of cars, drivers and competition is on another planet. IMSA is great, for sure, but it can’t be compared to WEC.
        And they do what it’s better for the championship, not for one or more drivers.
        The point is not Alonso or Olivier Pla, Conway, etc.. the point is what is better for the WEC.
        IMSA would have done the same! And IMSA organizer are also intellectualy honest, they are not complaining or blaming. They know and understand the decision.
        The Alonso effects it’s only to make more drama for a common situation like a clash.

        • Matt

          February 11, 2018 at 9:05 pm

          IMSA would never have made this decision. No ethical organization would have ever made the decision the WEC did and screwed over its drivers/teams for such a selfish reason. But the French ACO is known for its unethical decision making. For example, limiting P2 to 4 manufacturers and giving 2 of the contracts to French manufacturers to dominate the class. Another example: backtracking on the original agreement to let IMSA DPi teams run their DPi engines at Le Mans as long as they ran with the spec P2 bodywork. IMSA also has much better competition in terms of quality teams, drivers, and manufacturers. It’s been that way all the way back to the GTP days.

          • Davide

            February 12, 2018 at 10:32 am

            I don’t like the mono-engine in LMP2 (though it’s a formula that works, looking all the LPM2 teams in WEC, ELMS, ALMS, IMSA) but, given the choice done, it’s correct to not accept DPi from my point of view (which have other engines).
            But I understand your point.
            Sincerly I don’t agree on IMSA level…sure in IMSA there are some great team and some great drivers…but in the WEC there are a lot of great team and great driver.
            The level of competition in the WEC is higher, in all classes.
            But this is another story, not related the clash.

      • Jeffrey

        February 11, 2018 at 4:48 am

        No reason to get rude. Petite Le Mans does not have the same spectator figures. Only reason most of these people are upset is because they will not have the star European drivers at your little race

        • ACTUALLY read the numbers

          February 11, 2018 at 7:50 pm

          What?? Petit draws over 100k for the event every year. Fuji last year didn’t draw 50k with the forecast and while it is the best attended WEC outside of LM, it still usually runs 60k for the weekend.

  13. David Jenkins

    February 10, 2018 at 12:40 pm

    If they changed the date without mentioning Alonso No one would have said a word

    • Matt

      February 10, 2018 at 11:38 pm

      Lol yeah, because everyone is that dumb. You don’t think everyone wouldn’t have been pissed at an idiotic decision, no matter the BS excuse for it?

    • Davide

      February 11, 2018 at 2:55 am

      Good point!

  14. Frank

    February 10, 2018 at 12:40 pm

    John, thanks for the article and I agree with you as well. It’s good to get your opinion.

  15. Jason

    February 10, 2018 at 2:15 pm

    Tim3 for payback. Maybe cancel the wec Sebring round. Imsa through Sebring raceway has power to do this.

  16. daedalus

    February 10, 2018 at 2:22 pm

    Whilst the alonso effect is nice I agree that it will not result in Sportscar racing becoming as popular as NASCAR or F1 in the long term for the simple reason that every major sportscar race is a long endurance race and casual fans don’t have the stomach to watch for such a long time. As a result it only attracts die hard motorsport fans with long attention spans.

    If the WEC rounds were a 90 min sprint with one driver like F1 then it would attract more general fans who just want something interesting to watch on a sunday afternoon, but alas endurance racing is part of sportscar racings DNA and until that changes it will stay a niche motorsport.

  17. Deb

    February 10, 2018 at 2:30 pm

    Don’t hold back now John!😉😄
    Thanks for being vocal enough for those who are being so miserably affected by Alonsogate.
    Doesn’t really matter the other drivers may potentially lose points to championships, apparently it’s not about them. Toyota owns Fuji! Toyota owns Alonso! Toyota owns WEC?

  18. Matt

    February 10, 2018 at 4:06 pm

    Alonso wont make a lick of difference in terma of viewership. This is just the ACO being their usual selfish organization.

    • M97 Grenade

      February 11, 2018 at 10:45 pm

      ACO is as enamored by Alonso as Alfonso is. Toyota wants to get the most they can out of handing a Le Mans trophy to Alonso’s trophy room.

      Remember, there are no factory LMP1 teams this year except Toyota. That’s just how Alonso likes to win races! He learned that trick from Flavio Briatore, the biggest cheat of a F1 manager of all time.

      All that and there are only so many weekends during race season…

  19. CaneveryonestopnamingtheirselfMatt

    February 10, 2018 at 11:40 pm

    Thank you John for telling it how it is.

  20. FlyingLobster27

    February 11, 2018 at 5:13 am

    I have a suggestion. There’s an Asian Le Mans Series race on 9 December.
    There’s next to no racing in December, so a very low risk of a clash. IMSA, Super GT and F1 would all be finished. Alonso would be available, and his boss says he tries to drive every weekend anyway. As the WEC season is exceptionally drawn-out (some use the term ‘Super’), there’s no problem having a WEC race early December.

    It would shed some light on the AsLMS by having it support the WEC for a weekend, the same way the ELMS does at Silverstone. In fact, with Sebring, the 2018-19 WEC season would have common weekends with all three major continental sportscar championships. AND Fernando Alonso, since he’s so important.

  21. Cosmo DeLuca

    February 11, 2018 at 8:13 am

    The good news out of all of this is that Alonso won’t be at Petit Le Mans.

  22. quattro23

    February 11, 2018 at 10:59 am

    How about this, forget the “Alonso Mania”, most number of audience between Petit Le Mans vs 6 Hours of Fuji? If the FIA-ACO will try to hold the neck of IMSA again because of arrogant and stupid-a** decision, let the fans and audience decide by this.

    • ACTUALLY read the numbers

      February 11, 2018 at 7:55 pm

      Attendance or TV/streaming numbers?

      Attendance wise Petit crushes Fuji, 100k vs 60k from multiple releases. Viewer numbers aren’t much better for either, I believe a few races the WEC number was even at the event vs TV/streaming viewers. And Petit hasn’t fared much better most years.

  23. Not John’s Pants

    February 11, 2018 at 1:39 pm

    It sounds like John didn’t get an Alonso interview at Daytona.

  24. Mike T

    February 11, 2018 at 8:35 pm

    Completely agree… very bad move by the WEC. They should have worked harder to find a more effective solution.

  25. Richard Reeves

    February 12, 2018 at 7:11 am

    Alonso always has been, always will be a megalomaniac instigator. I would imagine his main purpose in committing to the WEC season is to ultimately stick a knife in the gut of his bosses at McLaren who have embarrassed him with a s**t car for the past several seasons. Now, as a side benefit, he’s managed to piss off IMSA, its fans and many of his fellow endurance drivers all in the name of the glorification of his ego and his desire to disrupt. He keeps figuring out new ways to keep himself in the spotlight as his once-glorious F1 career fades. He is utterly shameless and untrustworthy. In Shakespearean terms he is…Iago. The only good thing that has come of all this is that the man’s Bad Karma keeps catching up with him—as it will probably continue to do.

    • Matt

      February 12, 2018 at 11:25 pm

      As much as I despise the date change, I don’t think Alonso had anything to with it. It was Toyota who took advantage of the fact that they operate the Fuji track and have Alonso under contract. Toyota requested the date change so they could have their star driver at their home track. They knew they have certain negotiating power over the WEC right now since they are the only remaining major prototype manufacturer. It was the WEC’s job to say “no” to this unethical request… Alonso’s interest is gaining experience in protoypes so he can win Le Mans, he doesn’t care so much about the WEC championship.

  26. Kirk

    February 12, 2018 at 11:08 am

    This seems like so much desperation by the WEC. Not so much because of Alonso, but because they’ll appease any request Toyota has in order to keep one major manufacturer in their series. I have a feeling they figure Toyota will skip town if they win LeMans so are willing to agree to anything to try and ensure they stay.

    In October I’ll be at Road Atlanta and will unfortunately miss the Fuji WEC broadcast because it will conflict with the race I’ll be attending.

  27. Thomas

    February 12, 2018 at 2:35 pm

    Why Imsa doesnt Change there Date ? ACO asked IMSA for a Date change but the Americans are not intrested . The WEC Must do the best for there Championship….and not for imsa .

    • Matt

      February 12, 2018 at 11:29 pm

      Why would IMSA make itself look stupid just to help cover the WEC’s mistake? It’s not their fault the WEC made this rediculous change. Petit Le Mans is a much bigger event than the 6 Hours of Fuji in terms of attendance and worldwide interest.

      • Phil88

        February 13, 2018 at 7:20 am

        The WEC didn’t make a mistake. They did what was best for the series. It’s up to IMSA if they want to switch the date. I guess they didn’t have much confidence going up against the US GP.

        Can’t blame them really. They have to retain domestic interest now PLM doesn’t have much worldwide coverage.

  28. nealio

    February 13, 2018 at 12:41 pm

    Alonso is qualified to race in the WEC and if he chooses to do so and the WEC accepts his entry, so what? The WEC changed the dates not Alonso so that is on them. And you profit by writing about it while you curry favour echoing the wringers complaints so it’s all good, right?

  29. Sinner

    February 13, 2018 at 12:59 pm

    Funny that this article has been on top of sportscar for three days now, and has more comments than anyother. Is that The Alonso Effect??

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