DAYTONA BEACH, Florida – Spain’s Fernando Alonso lamented the fact that assorted mechanical problems prevented him and teammates Lando Norris and Phil Hanson from making it to the winners’ podium at the Daytona 24 Hour on Sunday, since before the problems cropped up, they were running among the “two or three best” in the contest.
The McLaren driver said at a press conference that he lost an “opportunity” to win the first endurance race of his career.
The two-time Formula One world champion said it was a “surprise” to find that he was more competitive than he’d expected, after problems during the training and qualifying rounds, in which he came in 13th.
Alonso said after the race that he loved driving for approximately eight hours in the twice-round-the-clock event.
Problems with the clutch and brakes plagued the Ligier he was driving, but “one of the best things was to feel competitive” with the other more developed prototypes and experienced drivers, he said.
Nevertheless, Alonso – driving for United Autosports – said that participating in this year’s Daytona Rolex 24 would make him “more prepared” for a future 24 Hour competition at Le Mans, and that the next time he will know what to expect.
“I can drive prototypes better than two weeks ago,” he said.
Alonso’s team dropped three laps off the pace after a tire blowout extensively damaged the vehicle with Phil Hanson at the wheel.
The Spaniard replaced Hanson after he brought the car in for repairs, but the team was never able to recover the lost ground.