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Alonso: Daytona 24 Hours win a ‘very big task’

Speedcafe.com

Friday 26th January, 2018 - 7:58am

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The United Autosports Ligier of Fernando Alonso, Lando Norris, and Phil Hanson during the Roar Before The 24

Fernando Alonso says that it would be a “very big task” to win his first Daytona 24 Hours.

Alonso this weekend starts his first endurance race, driving for United Autosports with Lando Norris and Phil Hanson.

The Spaniard was 1.709s off the best pace in the ‘qualifying’ session that determines garage order for the Daytona 24 Hours in the ‘Roar’ test three weeks ago, and does not expect it to be easy.

Alonso did not record a lap in Thursday’s first practice session, after Hanson had a minor off and damaged the front end of the Ligier JSP2017.

“That’s a very big task,” he told Autosport when asked about his chances of winning.

“Realistically, to be honest with ourselves first and the fans, for Lando and me it’s the first endurance race.

“For all three it’s the very first IMSA race and our package is not on top of the times usually.

“The Ligier and the Gibson (engine), we’re not the top favourites.

“But this is a 24-hour race and anything can happen.

“We are going to give it a go, but let’s say the list of the top, top favourites, we’re maybe not on it.”

A Balance of Performance change last week has pegged back the four Cadillac DPi-V.Rs that set the pace in the Roar test.

The air restrictors have been reduced in diameter from 32.2mm to 31.6mm, reducing power output.

While that will help the pace of the Ligier compared to the Cadillac, it remains an outside shot for victory.

Alonso is nevertheless setting his sights high.

“Anything can happen,” he said. “There is not exact mathematics in any of the results.

“In F1, the results are more or less known going into the grand prix; you know the fast cars will be on pole, the podium you know, you know more or less who will be in the points.

“In an endurance race, you can have an idea of who will be fast, but the final result you never know.

“So it remains open for us, and for the fans I hope, until the chequered flag.”

Zak Brown, co-owner of the United Autosports team Alonso is driving for, believes its two-car entry can stay in the hunt with a well-executed race.

“We won’t have the overall fastest car on pace, but it’s a long race, we want to stay out of the pits and we’ve got three great drivers,” Brown told Autosport.

“Our car is very close to the pace; characterising it as an outside chance of victory would be about right.

“Favourites? Cadillac is but we won a lot of races last year, did great on our Le Mans debut, spent the least amount of time in the pits.

“So if our drivers can do what they’re capable of and the team does their job, and we stay out of the pits, then we have a good shot.”

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