Fernando Alonso left Daytona in 2018 wanting more. After running off the pace of the leaders for 24 hours with United Autosport the 2-time World Champion clamored for a chance to win.
Thanks to a partnership with General Motors (that’s Chevy for the simpletons at home) for the Indianapolis 500, Alonso was given an opportunity to compete for the win in the Daytona 24. Wayne Taylor Racing needed a third/fourth driver in their #10 Cadillac. Alonso conveniently needed a seat for the race and as they say “the rest is history.” Except no one outside of some narrator from a children’s movie says that.
Teamed up with Toyota WEC teammate Kamui Kobayashi and WTR’s regular drivers Jordan Taylor and Renger Van Der Zande, Alonso was able to storm to the front. Pun fucking intended.
After being out-qualified by the Mazda’s and Acura’s, WTR had their work cut out for them. Down on overall speed the team worked any advantage they could find. Combine that with cooler temperatures and rain it set up a perfect scenario to equalize equipment. And they also have arguably the best driver in the world in their stable, that helped too.
On Saturday Alonso was able to go from 5th in to 1st during his stint. Schooling Helio Castroneves twice and reminding everyone that he is one of if not the best drivers on the planet right now. Alonso may have been the focal point of that car but the other three drivers held their own immensely.
Kamui was massively impressive behind the wheel of the #10 as well. The ex-F1 driver has found his home in sports cars and while some people will forget about his performance those that watched won’t. Then you have Taylor and van der Zande who are always massively quick. It should come as no surprise to anyone that the #10 performed how it did.
While the #10 car came to life in the race it wasn’t always a certainty they were going to win. With under three hours to go the #10 was chasing the #31 Cadillac from Action Express. With ex-Sauber driver Felipe Nasr behind the wheel the #31 went straight into Turn 1 handing Alonso the lead and ultimately the victory.
Before sunrise and even before midnight Saturday the pole sitting Mazda appeared to have the pace to compete this year, finally. Until of course it self combusted on the back stretch and decided to stop being a car Saturday night. A mere 10 minutes after the sister #55 car experienced the same problem. Mazda consistent like Joey Votto in July, can’t teach that kind of skill.
Feel good story of the weekend definitely goes to Alex Zanardi and the BMW team. It feels wrong even calling it a feel good story because Alex appears to be the kind of guy who doesn’t want to the “woe is me” sentiment, he’s just another driver. Man was it badass to see him get back in the car and be competitive. Shoutout to Rahal and BMW for putting this package together.
As for the overall winners, Alonso now has victory at the LeMans 24 Hours, Daytona 24, and he’s going for Sebring this year as too. Well the WEC version which was originally supposed to start at midnight but thank god someone with a functioning brain talked some sense into the scheduler unlike any college championship or World Series game. Don’t forget Alonso is making a run at the Indy 500 this year as well. Alonso’s bad luck from F1 appears to be behind him and it couldn’t happen at a better time.
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