Fernando Alonso wins Daytona 24 Hours after ‘perfect execution’

Fernando Alonso praised the “perfect execution” of his team amid treacherous conditions as he got life after Formula One off to winning ways with victory in the Daytona 24-hour race.

Heavy rain that started in the early hours of Sunday morning eventually forced the race to be curtailed with two hours remaining, with Alonso’s team of Renger van der Zande, Kamui Kobayashi and Jordan Taylor in the Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac holding the lead.

The Spaniard, who won back-to-back world championships in 2005 and 2006, retired from Formula One in November.

He has started to accrue an ever-growing trophy cabinet outside F1 and now adds the prestigious endurance title at Daytona to his victory in Le Mans’ 24-hour race last year.

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“It was just an amazing experience with the team from the test now to the race,” said Alonso after the win. “A perfect execution of the race.

“It’s too bad we didn’t get to race the full distance, but we led the race in night, day, dry, wet, so I think we all kind of deserve this one.

“There were very different conditions for all the competitors, so I’m really happy for the team.”

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The 37-year-old impressed at Daytona despite his limited experience of endurance racing. He climbed from seventh to first during his first stint and was also at the wheel when the race was red flagged and subsequently called off.

In torrential rain, Alonso passed Brazilian Felipe Nasr in the Action Express Racing Cadillac to take the lead for what was to be the final time. He becomes the third F1 champion to win at Daytona after Phill Hill and Mario Andretti.

Nasr’s Cadillac of Felipe Nasr and the Penske of Ricky Taylor took second and third respectively.

Alonso has often spoken about his desire to secure motorsport’s triple crown by winning the Monaco Grand Prix, Le Mans 24 Hours and the Indianapolis 500, a feat only previously achieved by Briton Graham Hill.

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Alonso was forced to retire in the closing stages of the Indy 500 when he first competed in May 2017, and will return The Brickyard again this year for another shot at the crown.

He made his debut at Daytona last year, finishing 38th.