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Fernando Alonso
Peter J Fox

Two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso to compete in Rolex 24

Two-time Formula One World Champion Fernando Alonso will be competing alongside the world’s best sports car drivers in the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway’s road course on Jan. 27-28, 2018, the United Autosports team announced Thursday.

Alonso will be part of the team’s two-car prototype effort in the WeatherTech Championship’s lead class, co-driving a Ligier LM P2 with Lando Norris, a McLaren development driver, and Phil Hanson, the reigning Asian LeMans Series LM P3 champion.

“What an exciting and interesting project,” Alonso said. “Learning about a completely new racing category, adapting to a different car and to another style of driving and everything that goes with it, is a new challenge for me and I can’t wait to test myself again as a driver.

“The Daytona 24 Hours is the most iconic U.S. endurance race and one of the world’s great races. Everyone knows it.”

This is not only Alonso’s first entry in the esteemed Rolex 24, it’s his first try in any of America’s premier endurance races. In May, the versatile driver earned Rookie of the Race honors in his Indianapolis 500 debut, where he started fifth and led 27 laps before his car’s engine failed, relegating him to a 29th-place finish.

The 36-year old Spaniard won back-to-back F1 titles in 2005-06 and has won 36 grand prix races since debuting in the series in 2003.

“We are absolutely thrilled to welcome Fernando Alonso to IMSA competition in the Rolex 24 At Daytona,” IMSA President Scott Atherton said. “It’s not possible to overstate the significance of this news. There is no question that with his Formula 1 experience and how competitive he was at the Indianapolis 500, he will be an immediate contender for the Rolex 24 victory.”

Alsonso and the United Autosports team will participate in the annual Roar Before the Rolex 24 test days on Jan. 5-7, 2018 in Daytona Beach.