Fernando Alonso: Daytona 24 Hours return is 'about winning'

Two-time Formula 1 world champion and Le Mans 24 Hours winner Fernando Alonso says he returns to the IMSA SportsCar Championship's Daytona 24 Hours ready to win

Fernando Alonso: Daytona 24 Hours return is 'about winning'

Alonso contested last year's event with the United Autosports team's Ligier, but the car was not a match for the frontrunners and eventually retired.

This time he has joined the Wayne Taylor Racing team to drive a Cadillac DPi-V.R, which he tried for the first time on Friday as the official 'Roar before the 24' pre-race test began.

"The expectation is higher, but we will see at the end," said Alonso, who shares the WTR machine with Jordan Taylor, Renger van der Zande and his Toyota World Endurance Championship colleague Kamui Kobayashi.

"I think I'm in a much better position this time than last year.

"This year I take all the experience and learning from last year - traffic management, fuel saving, how the US safety cars work - it's all going to be useful. That changes the approach of the race.

"Last year [at Daytona] was about preparation for Le Mans. This year is now about winning.

"[Last year] was my first endurance race of my life, my first closed-cockpit experience, and now I'm ready to enjoy it a little bit more.

"So far it's been great, the target this year is definitely to be a bit more competitive."

WTR won Daytona in 2005 and '17, and Alonso's car was second fastest in Friday's opening session then led the way in afternoon practice with Kobayashi.

"I was confident about racing here last year, but the environment in this team, the success they've had in the past, how professional they are, and how they approach every session, that makes me more confident," Alonso added.

"I'm in a more competitive environment this year with this team. I know how 24-hour races work, and how difficult it is to predict what will happen."

Team boss Wayne Taylor said securing Alonso for the race had been a long process.

"Last year Zak Brown introduced me to Fernando, obviously I knew who he was," Taylor explained.

"We didn't really discuss anything after that but a couple of weeks after that I phoned back and asked if he'd be available, and that took about another three months before we could talk again, because they were in the middle of their season. All of sudden it started to come together, then it went away again.

"I had to get a third driver, so the crew looked through all the WEC and all sportscar racing, not only to look at who was fast over one lap but over long periods of time, and clearly that person was Kamui Kobayashi.

"I'd never met him in my life before, didn't know him at all, but I rang him and suddenly realised it was 2am where he was, so I put the phone down.

"I thought I was going to wake him up, but he calls straight back - and I say would you be interested in driving for me and he says 'yes', and that contract basically happened overnight!

"And then through McLaren and Zak, there were some issues and it looked like we wouldn't be able to get [Alonso], all very disappointing, and then I get a text asking 'is there still a seat for him?'

"And I said 'there's always a seat for him'. We quickly made a deal, though Zak, McLaren and Fernando."

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