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Alonso joins United Autosports for 2018 Rolex 24 assault

Fernando Alonso will join the United Autosports LMP2 team for an assault on next January's Rolex 24 at Daytona, it has been announced.

Fernando Alonso, McLaren
Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren MCL32, Lance Stroll, Williams FW40
Fernando Alonso, McLaren
Fernando Alonso, McLaren
Fernando Alonso, McLaren
Fernando Alonso, McLaren MCL32
Filipe Albuquerque, Action Express Racing and Zak Brown
#32 United Autosports, Ligier JSP217 - Gibson: William Owen, Hugo Sadeleer, Filipe Albuquerque
Fernando Alonso, Andretti Autosport Honda speaks to the media after retiring from the race
Fernando Alonso, Andretti Autosport Honda

The McLaren Formula 1 star joins Lando Norris and Phil Hanson at the wheel of one of United's Ligier JS P217 prototypes for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season opener.

Paul di Resta, Will Owen and another yet-to-be-announced driver will share the sister entry.

Alonso previously hinted an interest in racing in Daytona, following on from his Indianapolis 500 bid this year, and the Florida event should be a precursor to a future attack on the Le Mans 24 Hours.

The Spaniard's new McLaren deal is understood to ensure he is available to race at La Sarthe next year should the opportunity arise.

"The Daytona 24 Hours is the most iconic US endurance race and one of the world’s great races," said Alonso. "Everyone knows it.

"It’s not part of the Triple Crown but, as I have always said, my aim is to be a complete driver and this experience will help me in the preparation for any other endurance race I might take part in.

"Before I went to Indy, I had never driven on an oval, now I know what an oval is and how to deal with it.

"I am excited to go back and race in America. After the great time I had during the month of May for the Indy 500, I am looking forward to taking part in another legendary race that will bring back all those amazing sensations that US fans gave me.

"Also, this race happens at a convenient time, in January, when our F1 season is off and we are mainly working on our physical preparation."

Alonso will get chance to sample the Ligier in the 'Roar before the 24' test on January 5-7, three weeks ahead of the race itself on January 26-27.

United owner and McLaren CEO Zak Brown added: “I’m thrilled we have managed to put a deal together to get Fernando in the car at Daytona. Although he hasn’t driven an LMP2 car before I’m confident he will pick it up quickly.

"He’s one of the best drivers around so it will be great to have him as part of the team, not only for his speed, but for his experience and the invaluable knowledge he will pass onto Phil and Lando.”

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