United Autosports will kick off its 2018 season this weekend with the ‘Roar before the 24’ official test for the Rolex 24 At Daytona. The Anglo-American squad will be fielding two Ligier JS P217s in the 56th running of the 24-hour race later this month.
The team’s driver line-up features some of the most famous names in racing, as Fernando Alonso teams up with Lando Norris and Phil Hanson in the No. 23 car, while Bruno Senna and Paul Di Resta join United’s regular LMP2 racers, Will Owen and Hugo de Sadeleer in the No. 32 Ligier.
The test will mark Alonso’s second run with the team, the two-time F1 world champion getting to grips with the Ligier at Aragon in November.
“It’s a true pleasure to go back racing in the States, in front of the U.S. fans,” said Alonso. “In less than a year I will have competed in two legendary races, which makes me very proud. I have always wanted to challenge myself in other categories of motorsport, as this is what you need to become a better driver. Going out of my comfort zone by taking part in such an iconic race as the Daytona 24 Hours is just amazing.
“I am looking forward to racing for United Autosports, the reigning European LMP3 champions. At the test we had in Spain in November, everyone made me feel extremely welcome and part of the family and I’m happy to be spending more time with the team and my teammates in a few days. I just cannot wait to jump in the car again and drive on the famous oval. In the last couple of months I have been spending time watching several Daytona 24 Hours, which made me even keener to go out there and try myself. It’s going to be fun!”
Six of United Autosports’ seven drivers have previously run with the team. Norris and Di Resta tested at Paul Ricard. Owen and de Sadeleer completed a full season in the European Le Mans Series with the team in 2017, finishing second in the championship. Hanson also has experience of the Ligier JS P217, having raced in the ELMS and selected rounds of the WEC in 2017. He has also completed an extensive testing program with United Autosports since joining the team in October. Senna is the only driver not to have completed any laps in the United-run Ligier, although he is no stranger to LMP2 and prototype racing, having won the 2017 WEC LMP2 Championship.
“I think we have two really strong driver line-ups for our Rolex 24 at Daytona campaign,” said team co-owner Zak Brown. “We have a great mix of talent, that includes experienced drivers and quick racers. I can’t wait to get out there and see how we get on.”
On-track action at the Roar begins on Friday, Jan. 5 with two test sessions. Further sessions will be held on Saturday and Sunday, with a 15-minute qualifying-style shootout on Sunday afternoon that will determine the garage layout for the Rolex race week.