Fernando Alonso close to 2019 Daytona 24 Hours seat with WTR

Fernando Alonso is closing on a deal to return to the Daytona 24 Hours with the Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac squad, a double winner of the event

Fernando Alonso close to 2019 Daytona 24 Hours seat with WTR

Alonso, who made his final Formula 1 race appearance with McLaren last weekend in Abu Dhabi, recently hinted he was considering making a second outing in the IMSA SportsCar Championship curtain-raiser.

The double F1 world champion made his endurance racing debut at Daytona at the start of this year, sharing a United Autosports-run Ligier JS P217 with Lando Norris and Phil Hanson - although multiple brake issues and a throttle failure consigned the trio to 38th overall at the finish.

That was the prelude to a full World Endurance Championship campaign with the Toyota LMP1 team that Alonso has dovetailed with his McLaren commitments this year.

He moved a step closer to completing his unofficial 'triple crown' by securing Le Mans 24 Hours victory in June.

With IMSA splitting the Prototype class into separate divisions for LMP2 and Daytona Prototype International machinery for the 2019 season, Alonso would need to race for a DPi team to be in contention for an overall win at Daytona this time around.

His 2018 squad United Autosports has decided not to contest the event next year.

Autosport understands Alonso is close to a deal to join the Wayne Taylor Racing outfit, which ran IndyCar star Ryan Hunter-Reay in its Cadillac DPi-V.R. this year at Daytona alongside season regulars Jordan Taylor and Renger van der Zande. WTR won Daytona in 2005 and 2017.

The agreement is not yet completed but is expected to be finalised and announced this week.

Team owner Taylor refused to confirm that Alonso was close to the seat.

"I have no agreement in place with Alonso to drive in the Daytona 24 Hours and I only make announcements when everything is signed, sealed and delivered," he told Autosport.

Taylor explained he had "five potential candidates" for the additional seat alongside full-season drivers Taylor and van der Zander, but would not comment on whether Alonso was one of them.

He also played down his links with GM brand Cadillac, pointing out that WTR was a customer team rather than a factory-backed operation, amid suggestions Alonso might have a General Motors deal that would encompass an Indy 500 engine supply for McLaren.

Speaking during his ride swap day with NASCAR star Jimmie Johnson in Bahrain, Alonso dropped another firm hint that he is intending to return to Daytona as part of a 2019 schedule that currently comprises three WEC rounds and a second attempt at the Indianapolis 500.

"Potentially it is possible," he said of Daytona. "Still looking at the options together with McLaren as well.

"At the end I am a McLaren driver also next year and the full priority is the Indy 500, so we need to accommodate a few things - it is not that I want to go on my own in all the decisions. I want to have the support from everyone."

WTR is no stranger to running high-profile guest stars at Daytona, as NASCAR legend Jeff Gordon was part of its race-winning 2017 driver line-up alongside Taylor brothers Jordan and Ricky and Max Angelelli.

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Series IMSA
Drivers Fernando Alonso , Robert Alon
Author Jonathan Noble
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