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Ferrari F1 driver Alonso to give the start at Le Mans 24 Hours

Two-time Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso will give the start at next month's Le Mans 24 Hours.

The Ferrari driver has accepted an invitation to be the honorary starter of the blue-riband round of the World Endurance Championship on June 14/15.

The move "shows the strong links that exist between the Automobile Club de l'Ouest and Ferrari", according to a statement from the Le Mans-organising club.

It will be the first time in the history of the 24 Hours that the role of honorary starter has been given to an active racing driver.

Those who have filled the role previously include Alonso's boss at Ferrari, Luca di Montezemolo (2009), six-time Le Mans winner Jacky Ickx (2000), actor Steve McQueen (1971) and then Jaguar chairman Sir John Egan (1986).

Reigning WEC champion and 2013 Le Mans winner Allan McNish will act as grand marshal, which includes the duty of leading the cars around the formation lap.

Corvette Racing programme manager Doug Fehan will also be honoured during 24 Hours week with a 'Spirit of Le Mans' award for his contribution to a race in which his operation has recorded seven class wins.

Multiple Le Mans winners Derek Bell, Henri Pescarolo and Tom Kristensen, long-time Porsche engineer Norbert Singer and team boss Reinhold Joest are among those who have been given the award since its inception in 2001.

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