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Alonso Confirmed for Rolex 24 With United Autosports

Fernando Alonso confirmed for Rolex 24 at Daytona in United Autosports Ligier JS P217 Gibson…

Photo: McLaren F1

Fernando Alonso will make his long-awaited sports car racing debut in January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona with United Autosports, the Anglo-American squad confirmed on Thursday.

The two-time Formula 1 World Champion will line up in one of the team’s Ligier JS P217 Gibson LMP2 cars for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-opener, joining McLaren junior Lando Norris and Phil Hanson, with Williams F1 reserve driver Paul di Resta and Will Owen so car confirmed for the second entry.

As revealed first by Sportscar365 earlier this month, Alonso had been linked to a Rolex 24 drive with the team, co-owned by McLaren executive director Zak Brown, with one industry source indicating that a deal was “80 percent likely” to happen.

In an exclusive interview, Brown said there would be a seat available for the Spaniard in one of the team’s Prototype entries should he be interested to drive, with further talks intensifying during the U.S. Grand Prix weekend at Circuit of The Americas, where Alonso revealed his desire to take part in the race.

It’s understood the Daytona drive is to help give the 36-year-old some sports car racing experience prior to a possible debut in next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, which has been on Alonso’s radar since outlining his goal to win the ‘Triple Crown’ of motorsport. 

Alonso, a two-time Monaco Grand Prix winner, made his Indianapolis 500 debut last year in a McLaren-backed entry from Andretti Autosport, although has ruled out a return to the race this year due to his full-season F1 commitments.

“The Daytona 24 Hours is the most iconic U.S. endurance race and one of the world’s great races,” Alonso said. “Everyone knows it. It’s not part of the Triple Crown but, as I have always said, my aim is to be a complete driver and this experience will help me in the preparation for any other endurance race I might take part in.

“Before I went to Indy, I had never driven on an oval, now I know what an oval is and how to deal with it.

“I am excited to go back and race in America. After the great time I had during the month of May for the Indy 500, I am looking forward to taking part in another legendary race that will bring back all those amazing sensations that U.S. fans gave me.”

Brown added: “I’m thrilled we have managed to put a deal together to get Fernando in the car at Daytona. Although he hasn’t driven an LMP2 car before I’m confident he will pick it up quickly.

“He’s one of the best drivers around so it will be great to have him as part of the team, not only for his speed, but for his experience and the invaluable knowledge he will pass onto Phil and Lando.”

United Autosports recently claimed its second consecutive European Le Mans Series LMP3 championship, while also placing second in the LMP2 title race in its first season in the category.

“To say we are running Fernando Alonso at Daytona for the 24-hour race is pretty special for everybody here at United Autosports,” said team co-owner and managaing director Richard Dean.

“Fernando is a quality act and will take to sports cars immediately. He has such a wealth of racing experience and this will no doubt be a huge benefit to the team and his young teammates throughout the week of the iconic Rolex Daytona 24 Hours.

“We have a very exciting lineup and I expect to be very competitive.”

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 Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John



  1. Youareyhere

    October 26, 2017 at 11:40 am

    So the scuttle is Alonso has been given the okay to drive for Toyota at Le Mans if the Toys ask him. With Toyota most likely going to Le Mans with 2 cars whos6seat would Alonso most likely take at Toyota

    • Travis McBee

      October 26, 2017 at 11:58 am

      Probably Lopez, who knows.

  2. Change it up

    October 26, 2017 at 11:48 am

    Don’t get me wrong, I looove the Rolex 24 and had an amazing experience being there this year but Alonso should expect that the Rolex 24 does not bring in 500,000 fans to watch it. Not sure if he will feel that warm reception in front of die hard endurance racing fans who definitely have a passion for their home grown manufactured vehicles.

    • Jack

      October 26, 2017 at 1:42 pm

      Well, Indy 500 only brought in 300,000. Which was the record. So I would hope he doesn’t expect 500,000 wherever he goes

      • Change it up

        October 27, 2017 at 7:42 am

        (sarcasm). Daytona does not bring in that amount of people. I remember at 11pm, 9 hours into the race, the grand stands only had maybe 100-200 fans scattered around with maybe a few thousand in the infield. We will see if he feels that same warm reception as compared to Indy and COTA

        • Slicks in the wet

          October 27, 2017 at 11:33 am

          Dont you think him being there will bring more people?

 about home grown manufactured vehicles? We love foreign teams and cars. I’ve not met the ignorant sportscar fan you’ve described.

  3. Johnson by Sea

    October 26, 2017 at 12:15 pm

    I give Alonso tons of credit for being willing to drive something other than F1’s. However, a part of me wonders whether he’s always had the desire to complete his so-called triple crown or whether his relatively lack luster achievements in F1 since his championships have contributed to his desires to be an “all around champion.” Would Alonso really be making all these headlines for himself if he’d won four or so F1 championships instead of bouncing around to one hapless team after another? It was he that made those decisions to move from team to team as he certainly had enough street cred at the time due to his championships. Was he being petulant earlier in his career? I don’t know nor does anyone else, but his F1 career sure has turned into a flat fart compared to what it could have been given two championships battling Schumacher and what should have been after the latter’s retirement. Hamilton had issues mid-career but made correct moves, so is Hamilton smarter, better, luckier, or what? Yeah, I’m being sacrilegious I suppose in questioning what’s going on here, and Alonso does posses actual talent as clearly demonstrated at Indy, but is he really one of the best racers on the planet as all these articles and “experts” are saying? OK, give me the objective evidence that demonstrates his being one of the greatest racers in existence as opposed to being just really good.

    • Mo

      October 26, 2017 at 12:44 pm

      Give you objective evidence that Alonso is one of the best out there. What an asinine statement.

      • Mo You Suck

        October 26, 2017 at 12:58 pm

        Hey Mo, what is YOUR evidence. Go ahead, I triple-dog-dare you. You’re a troll that offers NO eveidence, only an insulting response to someone questioning the status quo as in people today are more willing to buy the corporate line rather than seek objective data. Come on Mr. Obvious, give us the benefit of your insight into Alonso’s most current accomplishments. Yeah, Indy was good stuff, but did it demonstrate some otherworldly talent that other racers in other series don’t possess? Kurt Busch comes from NASCAR, drove for the same team, and finished sixth. Oh, he sucks since he’s only NASCAR, right? Again, evidence you dope, I’m waiting as we all are.

        • Mo

          October 26, 2017 at 1:34 pm

          For one, Alonso had an engine die at Indy, but he led laps at the Indy 500 after only a few practice sessions. Busch never led, if I remember correctly, and he damn near knocked the wall down in practice. Alonso had never raced on an oval in his life, but led the Indy 500, and was headed towards the front when his engine died. Also, Alonso has two F1 WORLD championships. Busch has one of the best rides in NASCAR and is routinely garbage. I don’t see how your Kurt Busch reference helps your weak, asinine argument.

      • Jake

        October 26, 2017 at 1:05 pm

        I want your evidence Mo.

      • Frank Abee

        October 26, 2017 at 1:10 pm

        You know, I figured Johnson here was FOS until thinking about it. Alonso seems like a decent guy with true ambitions to seek success in other forms of racing, but what would his career arc look like if he had won four or more F1 titles? Interesting question I must say.

    • Richard Reeves

      October 26, 2017 at 1:19 pm

      Actually this is not an “asinine” post at all Mo (and how brave of you to post your full name, BTW). I have in the past done a statistical analysis of all F1 drivers who have started at least 50 races and won at least 25% of them and the names, predictably, are these: Fangio, Moss (24+ %), Clark, Stewart, Prost, Senna and Schumacher. Hamilton, who of course is still racing, currently stands at 30%.

      Do these names ring any bells?

      Alonso’s wins to starts ratio currently stands at 11% and will further decrease by season’s end. You can call it karma, you can call it bad luck or whatever…but Alonso will NEVER rank among the historical greats. It will be fun to see him at Daytona next year but it is hard not see this as a world-class driver, past his prime, wanting to garner publicity, a big fish in a small pond. As long as he doesn’t cheat, betray his teammate and/or team…I look forward to seeing him race in late January.

      • Hmmm

        October 26, 2017 at 1:28 pm

        And how much of that can be attributed to his starts at Minardi, McLaren-Honda, his second stint with Renault, Ferrari having maybe the fourth-best car his last year there…he’s not been the most fortunate when it comes to being on a team with adequate equipment.

        • Frank Spec

          October 26, 2017 at 2:53 pm

          And who made the decisions that put Alonso on those crappy teams after winning his championships? Was he being canned by Renault after winning his championships with them? An F1 champion makes his own decisions now doesn’t he! He goes to Mclaren on his own accord since he thinks Renault has lost its edge. Maybe he was correct, but he decided that Mclaren was a good move. He does the same going to Ferrari, THEN he goes BACK to Mclaren after a few years. Meanwhile Hamilton as an example sputters around for a few years after winning his first championship, and now will get his fourth. I’d call Hamilton lucky if it wasn’t for the success of Vettle and Schumacher in which they both entered their days at Ferrari with crappy cars and both managed to somehow get wins and good results after they arrived which Alonso WASN’T able to accomplish. It appears to me that Alonso went through a narsasistic stage in which he felt he was owed great equipment but wasn’t willing to dig deep in himself to structure a great team around him. Oh, and there’s this—how many offers did Alonso get when his departure from McLaren was imminent? Who just jumped at the chance to sign him? Contracts for other drivers prevented such movement you say? Come on, you’re either stupid or naive if you think contracts in F1 would prevent the seas from parting to sign Alonso IF the rest of the paddock felt he was still at the top of his game and/or even good enough to make a truly significant difference in their respective games. It’s that or those other teams don’t view Alonso as a complete team player willing to contibute sufficient effort to transform them as Schumacher and Vettle did at Ferrari for example. Either way he wasn’t considered “good enough” from som perspective or another for other teams to snap him up and that, my friends, speaks louder than ANYONE’S useless opinion on this site including my own.

      • Mo

        October 26, 2017 at 1:42 pm

        Nonsense, he is racing a junk car now. Do you guys even follow F1? You put Alonzo in a Mercedes or Ferrari now and he easily wins races and competes with Hamilton and Vettel.

      • Mo

        October 26, 2017 at 1:45 pm

        Actually it is very asinine.

        • Frank Spec

          October 26, 2017 at 2:30 pm

          Well Mo, you offer no evidence, only opinion, what if’s are not evidence as actual wins and championships would be (do you even know that, guess not). Therefore, you missed and continue to miss Johnson’s point which, while perhaps contrary to prevailing sentiments, is nonetheless valid. It wouldn’t appear that anyone here can provide OBJECTIVE evidence that Alonso presently is indeed one of the greatest driving talents on the planet. And as Mr. Johnson stated, he is good as his Indy foray demonstrated, but one race does not constitute EVIDENCE of his current greatness. So absent OBJECTIVE EVIDENCE, Johnson here has a valid point until we see otherwise by some sage enthusiast. However, feel good in noting that YOUR comments have clearly demonstrated YOUR asininity (if that’s not a word it should be just for you with your name shown in the dictionary as it’s definition).

          • Mo

            October 26, 2017 at 2:47 pm

            Wrong. The question was- Is Alonso one of the best out there— not the best of all time or even one of the best of all time. The objective evidence shows he is one of the best out there. He is a current F1 driver. A two time world champion, racing at the pinnacle of motorsports. He just signed a new contract- so McLaren F1 obviously agrees with me- not you know nothings making asinine statements on the internet. Now, the list of names that any F1 team would put ahead of Alonso as far as talent and ability right now is extremely short- at best 3 names— in the entire world of professional race car drivers.

          • Mo

            October 26, 2017 at 2:59 pm

            And by the way, the call for objective evidence to “prove” that Alonso is one of the best out there is in itself an asinine statement. Most fans who actually familiar with F1 know that McLaren doesn’t field a car for him to show his abilities by winning or consistently being competitive. That’s why the original post that I responded to was called “asinine.”

          • Aaron Young

            October 26, 2017 at 3:05 pm

            Well Frank, you’re on a useless errand as Mo is indeed clueless. As you noted above, there weren’t any F1 teams willing to go out of their way to sign Alonso when all of his drama was going on. And as you noted, contracts are meant to be broken as far as success is concerned in F1. So old Mo here drinks the “Alonso is still great” koolaid because McLaren resigned him. Who else was available to fill their seat? I know, Rubens Barrachello!

          • Mo

            October 26, 2017 at 3:12 pm

            Are there any morons here who actually believe that if Alonso was in a Mercedes he would not win races in F1? Who is brave enough to step up and show how stupid they are? How about you Aaron or Frank?

          • Brett

            October 26, 2017 at 4:07 pm

            Yeah, I’ll step up Mo. Again you are unable to get the point. It’s not whether Big A could or couldn’t win in the mighty Merc. The point is that he hasn’t won in anything the past several years. And we all understand that his equipment has been crap relatively speaking. So you have a great or once-great driver, driving a POS, with nothing to show for it except frustration. Now MAYBE Big A COULD step into a mighty Merc and kick everyone’s ass into the next decade or maybe he’s good enough just to win a few or maybe Hamilton would kick his ass. I don’t know, Johnson that started all this doesn’t know, YOU sure as Hell don’t know for a fact What would occur (and IF you are so sure, tell me if you’d bet your life or even left testicle on it). And that is the point. Given Big A’s results of late in noted POS’s, there is no objective evidence either for or against Big A regarding how competitive he would be if given the chance. Now, for example, if Big A was driving for Red Bull and was consistently outperforming Daniel R, or was driving for Haas and consistently finishing top-6 or better, or was still driving for Ferrari and matching Vettle, then it would be most obvious to the casual observer that Big A is at the top of his or nearly anyon else’s game. But such evidence or example if you will does not exist. The only way a great driver can demonstrate greatness while driving a known POS is to consistently place said POS in good finishing positions, It’s strictly a matter of logic as in: A great driver in a POS with POS results demonstrates nothing to bet on, a pure crap shoot. However, a driver in a known POS that achieves good results demonstrates greatness and is something to bet on. Big A finds himself in the former situation unfortunately. No one here, not even Johnson, is saying Big A isn’t still great. He may be, but only Big A fanboys such as Mo insist upon it. Now if Big A comes out in 2018 or ‘19 fighting for a championship in a good to great car, then he obviously deserves credit. If he achieves good results in a car generally regarded as just OK, then it’s the same conclusion. However, if the situation is the same as the past several years, then nothing has been clearly demonstrated one way or another. If he goes to Daytona and sets the pole time and/or the fastest lap and/or wins while doing most of the driving or being the fastest in the car, then there’s a point to be made that he’s pretty damned good. But saying he’s great because he’s in F1 and was a champion is stupid, Mo. In case you haven’t noticed, drivers don’t cross disciplines these days, and saying one group is better than another is pure folly. All that can be said I’d that F1 drivers are the best in F1 cars, WEC drivers are the best WEC drivers, NASCAR drivers are the best at driving tin tops, etc.

          • Mo

            October 26, 2017 at 4:29 pm

            Ok Brett, according to your post, if Lewis Hamilton were to move to Sauber for the next few years, he would over night stop being one of the best out there. And, again, why didn’t McLaren sign a greater driver? In all of F1, Sportscars, Indycar, F2, F3– McLaren just settled for a washed up Alonso who isn’t even one of the best out there??????

          • Brett Back

            October 26, 2017 at 5:47 pm

            Well Mo, you really do put the “doof” in dufus. If Hamilton moved to Sauber or similarly equipped team for two, maybe three years, it wouldn’t mean crap to his reputation. However, if Hamilton moved to crappy teams and achieved crappy results over a ten year period ( you know, sort of like Big A), then I’d definitely say his reputation would likely take a hit. And I wouldn’t know FOR SURE whether Hamilton had the same juice he had several years earlier. That’s not to say he still wouldn’t be one of the best, but mediocre results over a near decade would sure give ME pause regarding his CURRRENT capabilities, and only putting such a driver back into a fair to good to excellent car and seeing the results would represent a factual conclusion to me to demonstrate said driver does or does not have it. Now you figure that drivers remain great for their entire career I guess, just because you say so. I say, “ Show me the results, then we’ll talk.” Overnight? Whatever. And what’s this non-sequitor about McLaren resigning Big A? OK, I’ll play. Now read before engaging. No one here has said that Big A isn’t at least good. We’re just asking whether he’s still one of the best racers out there. Who else would McLaren sign? Well no one likely as good as he was available. But you’ve turned the argument around on its head just like a politician (would that be your profession?). The real point is why didn’t anyone just jump at the chance to sign Big A if he was to leave McLaren. No one stepped up to welcome him during his contract talks. And as others have noted, contracts mean zip in F1 if success is imagined to result. Johnson above sure hit it when he/she referenced “sacrilegious.” He/she has obviously hit a Big A religion bone with you. But in the final analysis none of this matters Jack. If we go into a coffee shop and order a vente latte, it will cost each of us $5 or so. They have no interest in our discussion, and neither do I after this post.

          • Mo

            October 26, 2017 at 6:42 pm

            So, to summarize, you are just asking if Alonso is still one of the best out there? Well, considering that you haven’t given an extensive list of names of drivers who are objectively better, it’s pretty obvious that he is still one of the top single seat racers in the world. Of all those young stud F2 drivers and F1 development drivers, and Indycar drivers, and prototype drivers— McLaren F1 settles for Alonso even though he isn’t one of the best single seat racers in the world? There are apparently faster single seat racers that F1 and especially McLaren F1 are totally unaware of.

        • jrw

          October 26, 2017 at 5:30 pm

          Give it up Mo. You’re just an internet jerk.

  4. jason

    October 26, 2017 at 1:30 pm

    Do you think that a NASCAR personality of some type will still end up in the race as well? Yes the driver talent is great, but more importantly the DPI/LMP2 could be 20 cars for the Daytona 24.

    I hope in GTLM we can get 3rd/4th cars for Porsche and Ford, plus AF Corse and Aston Martin entries.

    GTD grid will be as large as IMSA allows it to be.

    • Slicks in the wet

      October 27, 2017 at 11:35 am

      $$$$ talks. A team will always have a seat for a driver if the finances work out

  5. pierre

    October 26, 2017 at 2:16 pm

    people actually think and believe ALO is not a good driver? wow… the ignorance of some people is out of this world. ALO is one of F1s greats and he does it all with poland syndrome…

    • Mr, Literal

      October 26, 2017 at 2:26 pm

      I think I have that syndrome as I constantly want to vacation in Warsaw!

  6. John

    October 26, 2017 at 5:48 pm

    The more the merrier I say.

    And to me, if you can’t get excited about someone like Alonso coming to race, then you’d have to be even less excited about someone like Button, another name that had been bandied about by some — for the full time Penske ride?!

    He’s a nice bloke and all, but if this is going to turn into an F1 d*ck measuring contest…

  7. Pete

    October 26, 2017 at 6:51 pm

    Sometimes I seriously wonder if I’m in the minority by simply enjoying racing…

    • Morons

      October 26, 2017 at 9:09 pm

      Apparently. Seems like more people would rather have a whinge and a cry about everything.

      Oh no, it’s only Fernando Alonso…couldn’t we get better, like the ghosts of Senna and Fangio?

      • Pete

        October 26, 2017 at 9:28 pm

        And perfectly balanced fields without BoP. But they’re only perfectly balanced if (insert car here) ends up winning. It’s not a good race if my favorite team doesn’t win, because the only way my favorite team didn’t win was that they were either screwed or someone else cheated. But if they win by a huge margin in a boring and uncompetitive race, then clearly the BoP that I hate was actually good.

  8. KW

    October 27, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    Oh man, what a lot of useless discussion here!
    Fernando Alonso has made the decision that now, being far away from winning another F1 title, he wants to get some different racing experience. All of the discussion if he is one of the best racing drivers or not is absolutely obsolete; he is famous, and he will race at Daytona, and this is good for everybody – for him, for the United Autosports team, for the organizers, for the spectators. So just welcome him and watch him make his experience; I’m sure he will do fine.

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