Alonso, with new team, Daytona star in his second participation

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In the image, the Spanish pilot Fernando Alonso. EFE / Archive

It’s time for the most important endurance test of the US auto calendar, the 24 Hours of Daytona that will begin on Saturday, with the final training starting this Thursday and, for the second consecutive year, with the Spanish Fernando Alonso as star figure.

The race celebrates its 57th edition this year with the participation of 179 pilots in four different categories.

In the main, the DPi (Daytona Prototype), will run for the second time Alonso, who opens the team, Wayne Taylor Racing, along with the Japanese Kamui Kobayashi, the American Jordan Taylor and the Dutch Renger van der Zande, with the Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi -VR number 10.

Besides this, there will be another 10 prototypes of the DPI that will seek victory.

On Thursday, the start of the final training and the classification to decide the starting positions are scheduled and the test will start on Saturday at 15:00 Eastern time (20:00 GMT).

After finishing the traditional appointment with the Roar Before Daytona at the beginning of the month, three days of training and preparation for the race this weekend, Alonso was categorical when he highlighted that they had done an excellent job with the whole team, which felt very at ease in all aspects and that would go to “win” the test.

“Last year was a learning experience of everything that surrounds this great test, but now I come with the conviction that we can win,” said Alonso. “We have a strong team and I’ve felt very comfortable from the beginning.”

In those three days of training at Daytona, the first steps of the Cadillac # 10 of Wayne Taylor Racing always placed him in the leading positions and as the biggest opposition to Mazda cars, which are also favorites, like the Nissan and Acura, to the final victory within the queen category.

The Waynte Taylor Racing team has already won the 2017 edition and is convinced that it can repeat the story at the Daytona International Speedway circuit, and more after the incorporation of Alonso and Kobayashi.

Especially that of Alonso, who after debuting in the iconic American race in 2018 with a LMP2 of United Autosports is convinced that they can make a great race and fight from the beginning for the victory in the top category of the DPi.

But during the traditional Roar Before Daytona the two cars of the Mazda Team Joest, who made the best two times in the choice of garages, showed that they had done a great job in the preparation and performance on the track.

The third best time was for the Action Express Racing team with the Cadillac number 5, driven by the champions of the last edition, the Portuguese-American Joao Barbosa, the Brazilian Christian Fittipaldi and the English Mike Conway.

Fittipaldi, 48, a native of Sao Paulo, will close his illustrious career as a driver when he completes the 57th edition of the 24 Hours of Daytona this weekend, putting an end to a career of 31 seasons in active competition.

Fittipaldi returns as defending champion of the race, the first of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season, and together with Barbosa will seek to revalidate the title and reach what would be the fourth.

Fittipaldi and Barbosa will seek to join Bob Wollek, Rolf Stommelen, Peter Gregg and Pedro Rodriguez, four times Daytona winners. Hurley Haywood and Scott Pruett are still the only five times champions of the race.

The Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya, Scott Dixon, Ricky Taylor, Jordan Taylor, Pipo Derani, Sébastien Bourdais, Joey Hand, Mike Rockenfeller, Ryan Dalziel, Timo Bernhard, the Brazilian Hélio Castroneves, Alexander Rossi and Simon Pagenaud are also pilots who aspire to the title .

Derani will compete with the second Action Express car alongside the current IMSA champions, Felipe Nasr and Eric Curran, while Bernhard leads a Mazda formation that includes riders such as René Rast, Olivier Pla or Oliver Jarvis.

Nissan completes the list of favorites with Loïc Duval, Romain Dumas and Colin Braun starring in the CORE Autosport offensive.

Competing this year segregated from the rest of the prototypes, the LMP2 class has only four different vehicles.

In addition to the participation of Alonso, among the 179 riders, with 47 mounts, who will compete in the race will also be the Spaniards Antonio García and Miguel Molina in the modality (GT Le Mans) and Alex Riberas (GT Daytona).

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