Paris: Fernando Alonso, two-time former world champion will make his Le Mans 24-hour race debut this year after receiving approvals to take a leave of absence from Formula One by his team McLaren.
The team reported on Tuesday that, “McLaren has confirmed it will allow Fernando Alonso to compete in upcoming rounds of the World Endurance Championship, including this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.”
McLaren highlighted that F1 was still Alonso’s main focus, and as such he will compete in every round of the 2018 season. Last year the Spaniard missed the Monaco Grand Prix to participate in the Indianapolis 500 as part of his dream of winning motor sport’s Triple Crown of Monaco, the Indy 500 and Le Mans. The feat has only been attained by one other driver — Graham Hill.
Alonso said, “We tried for Indy last year, came close, but just missed out.” He also stated that, “This year, I have the chance, thanks to McLaren, to race for the win at Le Mans. It is a big challenge — much can go wrong — but I am ready, prepared and looking forward to the fight. My deal to race in WEC was only made possible through the good understanding and strong relationship I have with McLaren, and I’m very happy that they listened and understood what this means to me.“In no way will this challenge take away from my main target of Formula 1 with McLaren. In 2018, my aim is to be competitive at every grand prix, and I feel sure that we are closer to achieving that.”
Alonso acquired experience for Le Mans in the Daytona endurance race in Florida on Sunday where he finished 38th. Zak Brown, McLaren executive director mentioned that the team supported Alonso’s Le Mans dream as “our organisation cherishes that a motivated, hungry and happy world-class driver such as Fernando is a formidable asset for any team in F1”.
Brown also added that, like Alonso, McLaren are “racers at heart,” which is built “on a brave heritage of competing and winning in different forms of the sport”. This year’s Le Mans at the Circuit de la Sarthe is planned from June 16 to 17 between the Montreal and Austrian Grand Prix.
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