Alonso at Le Mans, WEC with Toyota

January 30, 2018

Alonso at Le Mans, WEC with Toyota

January 30, 2018

Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso has been confirmed for his long-awaited debut at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Toyota Gazoo Racing.

Alonso will also race the FIA World Endurance Championship races of its 2018-’19 “Super Season” beyond his F1 commitments with McLaren.

Alonso will share the No. 8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid with Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima. Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez will drive the team’s No. 7 car. Toyota veteran Anthony Davidson is now reserve and development driver, and Alexander Wurz continues as team advisor and ambassador.

Alonso has been to Le Mans before, as the honorary starter of the 82nd edition of the race in 2014. Now he’ll be on the grid for the 86th edition on June 16-17.

“I am very excited to participate in the Le Mans 24 Hours for the first time,” Alonso said. “It is a race which I have followed closely for a long time and it has always been an ambition of mine to participate.

“Endurance racing is a different discipline compared to single-seaters and it will be an interesting challenge. I am looking forward to working together with, and learning from, Sébastien and Kazuki, who are both very experienced endurance drivers. It will be a learning curve for me but I am ready for this challenge and I can’t wait to get started.”

Akio Toyoda, Toyota Motor Corporation president said, “I am looking forward to seeing how much Toyota Gazoo Racing will grow when our drivers and all team members take what they have learned thus far in endurance racing and add to it what they will gain from Fernando’s experience.

“The entire team is excited about this opportunity for growth. Through the challenge of WEC endurance races and, among those, on the grueling roads of the Le Mans 24 Hours, Toyota Gazoo Racing will do its best, together with Fernando, to outdrive the competition.”

Alonso had his first test for Toyota last November at Bahrain, following the 2017 FIA WEC season finale.

Both Pierre Fillon, President of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest and Gérard Neveu, General Manager of the FIA ??World Endurance Championship, hailed Alonso’s arrival.

“For several years now, Fernando had shown interest in our event and the FIA ??World Endurance Championship,” Fillon said. “The conditions are now in place for this desire to come to fruition. Le Mans and Endurance racing will shine under the spotlight that Fernando’s presence brings, just as our race and Endurance racing will also allow Fernando’s talent to shine.”

Neveu added, “Welcoming Fernando Alonso for the entire 2018-2019 WEC Super Season is an immense pleasure and honor. All our fans and the great Endurance racing family are looking forward to welcoming Fernando. He is one of the greatest motorsport drivers of all time. His participation in the WEC with Toyota in LMP1 ensures a superb show. The presence of such a champion confirms the influence and attractiveness of our discipline.”

The FIA WEC season begins May 5 at Circuit Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.

Alonso’s Rolex 24 debut with United Autosports, co-driving a Ligier JS P217 with a pair of rising 18-year-old Brits in Lando Norris (McLaren reserve driver, Formula 2 driver) and Phil Hanson was blighted by a puncture plus brake and throttle sensor issues. They finished 13th in the Prototype class, and 38th overall in the 50-car field.

Of his Daytona debut, Alonso said, “Despite the issues we had, I have a good taste in my mouth as I learned how to cope with the fatigue, traffic management, full course yellows, night driving, driver change procedures, driving preparation between the stints like how much rest you need to have and the amount of time you need to allow in the garage before taking over the car again.

“So, if and when I ever do another 24-hour, I’ll be much more prepared as it’ll be my second time. Now I think I can drive prototype cars at a higher level than two weeks ago, as I now know things I didn’t know 24 hours ago.”

Latest Photos

Latest Video

61-Car Field Drives a Combined 140,000 miles at 2023 Rolex 24

Friday March 3, 2023