Two-time Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso will join the mighty Wayne Taylor Racing (WTR) outfit for the upcoming Rolex 24 At Daytona, the 2019 season opener for the IMSA Sportscar Championship.

It will be the 37-year old’s second consecutive Daytona 24 Hour event as well as his first motor racing venture since the Spaniard’s departure from Formula 1 last weekend at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Alonso arrives to the team alongside fellow Toyota driver and on-track rival Kamui Kobayashi who pilots the #7 Toyota in the current World Endurance Championship Superseason.

The duo will race the 24-hour event alongside WTR’s full-time drivers in American Jordan Taylor and Dutchman Renger van der Zande in the team’s only entry, the #10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R.

“I am very happy about joining the Konica Minolta Cadillac team and Wayne Taylor Racing to race together at the Rolex 24 At Daytona,” announced Alonso.

“This is undoubtedly one of the greatest races in American and world motorsport. Returning to the United States is always special. The atmosphere created by the fans is unique throughout an incredible weekend.

“[After making] my debut last year both in endurance races and with these sportscar prototypes, as well as on this track, I was left wanting much more after a brake issue ended our hopes of stepping on the podium.

“An intense year in both Formula One and the WEC [has made me] really look forward to 2019 and attempting to conquer one of the most important races in the world. I’m brimming with hunger and desire.”

Alonso in his United Autosport outfit run by McLaren CEO Zak Brown. Alonso partnered British racing drivers Phil Hanson and next season’s McLaren Formula 1 driver Lando Norris.

The #10 entry for the Indiana-based team has been among the most dominating at the Daytona event since its inception in 2007. The team reeled off five consecutive race-day podiums in the Daytona 24 Hour from 2013 to their 2017 victory with a total of 963 laps led across the handful of events. They also enter next year’s season with a spring in their step off the back of a thrilling victory at October’s season-ending Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, where van der Zande executed a dramatic last-lap pass that kept alive their streak of 15 consecutive seasons with at least one win.

More success lies within WTR from a championship perspective winning the team’s championship in 2017 alongside two solid third-place finishes in 2016 and the most recent 2018 season. Their last three years include nine victories from thirty races plus five on the trot in the opening half of their championship-winning season, including their most recent Daytona 24 Hour victory.

The #10 WTR machine leading the field into the first turn at the start of January’s Daytona 24 Hour earlier this year.

However, their 2018 Daytona challenge was one to forget when tyre troubles denied the team back-to-back victories during the nighttime leg of the race. Their ill-fated problems left them in disappointment after an impressive qualifying run on Thursday placed their #10 car on pole for Saturday’s start.

The 2019 Daytona 24 Hour kicks off a massive year of endurance racing in America on January 26, 2019. Fernando Alonso will be looking for more luck after he finished last year’s race in a lowly 38th position overall when braking issues also hindered United Autosport’s performance during the night.

Images via Daytona International Speedway, Rolex 24 Hour and Wayne Taylor Racing

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Luke McCullough

Melbourne Based - 17 Grand Prix attendances and counting in Australia, Singapore, Canada, France, Austria and Great Britain.
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