Sebring (USA), .- Spanish Fernando Alonso will seek to reinforce, on board the Toyota TS050 Hybrid, his leadership in the World Endurance Championship (WEC, in English acronyms) in the 1,000 miles of Sebring, the sixth round of the championship, which will play next Friday in the aforementioned circuit of Florida (United States), where this Wednesday will start free practice.
Alonso leads with the Swiss Sebastien Buemi and the Japanese Kazuki Kakajima, with the car 8 of the Toyota Gazoo Racing, in its main category (LMP1), the World Resistance. In which he adds 102 points, five more than the other car of the Japanese team – the number 7-, which is driven by the Argentine José María ‘Pechito’ López, the Englishman Mike Conway and the Japanese Kamui Kobayashi.
The double champion of the Asturian world of F1, which will be the great absentee this week in Melbourne (Australia), at the start of the World Cup which was dismissed last November – after 17 campaigns in which he achieved the 32 triumphs that counts Spain in all its history, won with its peers the first two tests of the WEC: the Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium) and the 24 Hours of Le Mans (France), in May and June of last year.
But, just a few hours after celebrating another triumph in the third race, the Six Hours of Silverstone (United Kingdom), the car of Alonso and the other Toyota – which had also supported them in the first two tests – were disqualified, due to irregularities in your flat backgrounds.
‘Pechito’ and his teammates later won the Six Hours of Fuji (Japan) and the Six Hours of Shanghai (China), in which Fernando and his teammates finished second. With what his leadership, comfortable after the first two tests – the two that will be repeated and close the ‘super-season’, after the Sebring – was reduced to five points.
Unlike the six-hour tests, the triumph in Sebring gives 32 points, instead of 25; while the second classified adds 23, instead of 18. Reason why the race on Friday, whose qualification will be played on Thursday, will be of vital importance for the outcome of the World Cup; in which the Swiss Mathias Beche, the American Gustavo Menezes and the Frenchman Thomas Laurent occupy, with his Rebellion Racing, the third place, with 73 units.
Alonso started the year with an epic victory at the 24 Hours of Daytona, also in Florida, where he exhibited at the end of January – under the flood and in the dry; day and night – and was key in the victory of the Cadillac Wayne Taylor Racing team that joined with Kobayashi, the American Jordan Taylor and the Dutchman Renger Van Der Zande. In another championship, the IMSA -which will not continue competing for the Spaniard-, whose second test will take place in Sebring on Saturday, one day after the 1,000-Mile race.
Before focusing on his main goal of the season, the Indianapolis 500 (USA), at the end of May, a test in which the great Asturian rider will seek victory, with McLaren chassis and Chevrolet engine, for – after winning Le Mans and (twice) the Grand Prix of Monaco- annotate the ‘Triple Crown’; Alonso will try to confirm his leadership with Buemi and Nakajima in the WEC.
Toyota, which had never previously driven with the TS050 Hybrid in Sebring, made a long private practice in February, during two days, on the mythical track, 6,019 meters and 17 curves, built on an airfield used as an air base during the World War II, the Hendricks Army Airfield.
A circuit that was first competed in 1950, two years before the first 12 Hours of Sebring, the aforementioned IMSA test that will run on Saturday and in which Van Der Zande and Taylor – who shared triumph with Alonso at Daytona – they will compete again with Cadillac, this time together with the Frenchman Matthieu Vaxiviere.
Before returning to Florida, where Alonso, and his teammates – except Buemi and the Argentine ‘Pechito’ Lopez, who contested the Hong Kong Formula E test on Sunday – already rode in private training last weekend; the Asturian genius, who has been in the United States for several days, trained in the Indianapolis 500 simulator in Charlotte, North Carolina.
This Wednesday they will start in Sebring – located about 270 kilometers north of Miami; and about 225 south of Daytona – free practice; that will be developed in the afternoon, the first; and at night, the second. With a view to a test that will start at four in the afternoon on Friday (20:00 GMT) and end once the thousand miles are covered or, failing that, when eight hours are reached: around midnight, around the five in the morning on Saturday, in Spanish time (04:00 GMT).
- Classification of the World of Resistance (LMP1):
.one. Fernando Alonso (ESP) / Sebastien Buemi (SUI) / Kazuki Nakajima (JPN / Toyota Gazoo Racing) 102 points
.two. José María López (ARG) / Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) / Mike Conway (GBR / Toyota Gazoo Racing) 97 points
.3. Gustavo Menezes (USA) / Mathias Beche (SUI) / Thomas Laurent (FRA / Rebellion Racing) 73 points
.4. André Lotterer (GER) / Neel Jani (SUI / Rebellion Racing) 63 points.
Adrian R. Huber (EFE)