Fernando Alonso took plenty of positives out of his debut sports car race in last weekend's Rolex 24 at Daytona despite enduring a trouble-filled race that saw him finish 90 laps down in 38th place.

Ahead of a possible entry to the 24 Hours of Le Mans later this year, two-time Formula 1 world champion Alonso entered the Rolex 24 with United Autosports, teaming up with McLaren youngster Lando Norris and rising sports car racer Phil Hanson.

Alonso qualified 13th and took the start at Daytona, and even led for a couple of laps early on as the #23 Ligier JS P217 made good progress through the field to sit fifth entering the night.

However, following a puncture and subsequent damage and multiple braking issues that forced United to return the car to the garage on multiple occasions through the race, Alonso and co. were ultimately classified 38th overall, finishing 90 laps down on the race-winning Action Express entry.

Despite the problems, Alonso was upbeat following the race, having felt more competitive in the race as he was able to take the fight to faster cars in teh Prototype class.

"I think have a positive feeling and a positive situation about the race. I think unfortunately we had too many issues that were out of our control, some unlucky situations," Alonso said.

"I have a positive feeling despite the issues and reliability. It was a very nice experience, the whole event, the test, qualy, the restarts, the stints, the fatigue, at night, the transition from night to day. It was one of my stints, it was very nice being on-track at that time. I really enjoyed the traffic management and the car itself.

"The nicest thing was how competitive we felt. We entered the race with no high hopes because we were never competitive. Suddenly we picked up the pace and everyone was smiling in the garage, so it was a nice feeling.

"They were at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, finished fourth, so it’s a car that’s well-proved. It’s not a car that comes here and you have issues here and there. It was a little bit of a surprise, a little bit unlucky. Even our sister car could have been on the podium, clearly.

"We could have been there, even one lap ahead of them in that moment, so I think we lost our opportunity here, but I have a positive outcome, even with all the issues. I really did enjoy it a lot.

"I love driving, and when you drive for eight or nine hours in one race, it’s much better than one. That’s a very good feeling, driving 24 hours."

The worst of Alonso's problems came during his final stint when he suffered a brake failure heading into Turn 1 following the long banking section, but he was able to use the escape road and avoid crashing.

"It happened two times at the first corner, so you are at 300, 310 kph, and then you hit the brakes and there are no brakes. Luckily there is the shortcut there," Alonso explained.

"At night you don’t see clearly the tyre wall and where there is this escape road, so that was even more scary. It is the way it is.

"I tried to get the car back to the garage because you know the next race they have and the mechanics will sort the problem."

 

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