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Alonso: This time I am here to win the Rolex 24 At Daytona

Fernando Alonso is relishing the prospect of racing in his second Rolex 24 At Daytona, this weekend he lines up with Wayne Taylor Racing in the Konica Minolta Cadillac and intends to win the legendary race at the crowd-friendly and legendary endurance events on the motorsport calendar.

Two-time Formula 1 world champion Alonso and fellow Toyota Gazoo Racing LMP1 (WEC) driver Kobayashi will join Jordan Taylor and Renger van der Zande in the #10 Cadillac DPi-V.R lineup – the team set to be among the front-runners this weekend.

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Last year Alonso made his debut with Zak Brown’s United Autosport effort in an LMP2 Ligier. It was toe-in-the-water stuff for the Spaniard who this year is back with the outright victory in his sights.

Speaking to IMSA Wire Service ahead of this year’s edition of the race in Florida, Alonso said of his chances in the 47 car field, “I definitely feel I am in a much better position this year compared to last year.’’

“Last year, this was my first U.S. sports car race and my first closed-cockpit experience and definitely this year, I’m ready to enjoy it a bit more and use the experience of my first WEC season as well.”

Motorsport in the USA, with well-supported series such as Nascar, the Indycar and Sportscar races attracting fans to the events, offers fans greater value for money as well as team and driver access than similar events in Europe.

Alonso noted, “Everything is much more open than racing in Europe. There were a lot of good moments last year and already this year with a couple kids that were even jumping in the car at one point. They get really close to the teams, to the drivers, to the cars.”

“They can even touch the car if they want. It’s just something unthinkable in Formula 1 or racing in Europe, so I think that’s the nice part of this atmosphere and this race. I know it will be even bigger with all the fans here and how close they are on pit lane as well.

“When you jump in the car, you’re still signing autographs and taking pictures even with the helmet on, waiting for the car to come to pit lane – sometimes you need to tell them you are in a critical moment and you should be ready to jump in.”

“But at same time if you embrace that and enjoy that, it is a very nice event and very nice emotion to see all the passion from the fans when they see the cars.’’

Wayne Taylor Racing are considered among the favourites for the race this weekend and Alonso knows it, “The target this year is definitely to be more competitive on the track and I’m happy. I’m sure that with the Konica Minolta Cadillac and Wayne Taylor Racing, we can be in that position.”

Dutchman Van der Zande is also looking forward to the foray with Alonso and Kobayashi, “I’m happy to go racing and happy to be back in the car. For sure, Wayne has brought us some incredible things to this team, including the pair of drivers who will be joining us.

“Overall I’m excited about our chances. We have Fernando Alonso and he’s a legend. You can feel that in everything he does. Heading to Daytona with him and also Kamui as a teammate, I think is very special.’’

Jordan Taylor agreed with his teammate, “At this point, we’re optimistic. From a car point of view, we made a lot of progress with some changes. It was also good to get Alonso and Kobayashi through the car to get them comfortable driving-wise and seat-wise and ergonomics.”

“They bring so much experience and information from what they’ve done in Formula 1 and WEC and in Japan to help us learn, and hopefully we’ll be ahead of the curve all through race weekend,’’ added Taylor.