Fernando Alonso says he got “the maximum” out of his United Autosports Ligier during qualifying for the Rolex 24 at Daytona and is not frustrated by the LMP2 car’s lack of pace.
The double world champion has admitted he is primarily using his first 24-hour race as practice for a potential future attempt at Le Mans as he chases the Triple Crown. Alonso was tasked with qualifying the No.23 car on Thursday and secured 13th place overall with a best lap just under a second off the pole-winning No.10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi.
Asked by RACER whether there is any frustration at not having one of the quickest cars at his disposal, Alonso replied: “I knew before coming here that the package we have is not the quickest, but at the same time it’s a race that is long enough that you can recover the lack of performance you may have.
“We are a very new team with two rookies in the car – Lando [Norris] and myself – a lot to learn, so it’s good also not to have the pressure to be super competitive and be super fast.
“So in a way it is a learning experience and a learning race. It’s a preparation also, as I’ve said a couple of times if one day I attempt the 24 Hours of Le Mans I need to respect that race. I need to also respect this race and know that there are a lot of guys with more experience than me and more prepared than me. So if I want to be as prepared as them and to have experience then I think this weekend is the perfect opportunity.
“At the same time, some of the best guys out there and the best drivers in prototypes and LMP2 last year are a little bit behind us. So it was a surprise for us to be quite fast in the first qualifying in a prototype. So I am quite happy.”
And Alonso was keen to highlight the advantage he held over the No.32 car during the qualifying session, with Bruno Senna some 1.2s slower in the sister United Autosports entry.
“I think our limitations are maybe different. In LMP2 maybe there are some differences between some of the cars and we know that our package is not the quickest but hopefully in the race over 24 hours we can make up a little bit of ground there and recover some places.
“But I’m happy. The first of the Ligiers and by a good margin. We have top guys in our team. Bruno Senna is the world champion in LMP2, he’s in the other car and we felt competitive and I felt we achieved the maximum.”