Fernando Alonso admits he regretted losing the chance to race for Porsche in the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2015 "for a long time" after Nico Hulkenberg won the race.
Speaking to selected media during his debut FIA World Endurance Championship race weekend at Spa, Toyota driver Alonso discussed how he first became interested in sportscar racing and Le Mans.
He had agreed a deal to join the Porsche LMP1 team for the French endurance classic in 2015, one year after serving as the race's starter in 2014, but then-McLaren Formula 1 engine supplier Honda is believed to have blocked the move at the eleventh hour.
Fellow F1 driver Hulkenberg ended up taking the vacant seat in Porsche's third-string 919 Hybrid alongside Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber, and took outright victory at the first time of asking.
Asked when it was he decided he wanted to race at Le Mans, Alonso replied: "I think it was 2012 or 2013. I was always interested in the race. One of my best friends Antonio Garcia raced a Corvette for many years and won Le Mans [in the GT1/GTE Pro class] a couple of times.
"He was telling me how special Le Mans was, so I was following the race from that time, and then even more closely in 2012, 2013. I was thinking I would like to do one time the race in LMP1.
"In 2015 I was so, so close to racing. I regret it for a long time, because Nico took the place, and not only the place - he took the trophy!
"In 2016 I tried again, in 2017 I gave up a little bit because we [McLaren] were in a different situation [in F1]. For 2018 I made sure that it was a possibility."
Alonso has driven the famous Circuit de la Sarthe in both the Automobile Club de l'Ouest simulator - mandatory for Le Mans rookies - and Toyota's Cologne facility since joining the Japanese marque for the full 2018/19 WEC superseason, which includes two editions of the 24 Hours.
"The Porsche [Curves] are the more demanding corners," the Spaniard said when asked to name his favourite part of the Le Mans track.
"Indianapolis area, I like that in the simulator so in the real car it will feel even better. Probably those are the two things every time you pass there, you feel adrenaline. Hopefully it’s the same in the real car."