McLaren on Tuesday confirmed that star driver Fernando Alonso will take time out from his busy schedule in the 2018 Formula 1 World Championship to contend some rounds for Toyota in the 2018/2019 super season of the World Endurance Championship. Yes, we’re finally going to see the double-F1 world champion behind the wheel of a competitive car in top-level motorsport once again.
One of the WEC rounds he’ll be at is the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June, thus fulfilling a lifelong dream of his. The Spaniard has frequently mentioned a desire to win motorsport’s Triple Crown, i.e. the Monaco Grand Prix, the Indy 500 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. He’s already bagged the Monaco race, and last year he came close to bagging the Indy 500 but was ultimately let down by engine failure, something he’s had to become accustomed to in F1 since his 2015 switch from Ferrari to McLaren.
Fortunately he will have one of the most competitive cars in the WEC as he’ll be behind the wheel of Toyota’s TS050 Hybrid, which won 5 of the 9 rounds held last season. And he’ll have a pretty strong chance of winning rounds this season now that Toyota is the only manufacturer in the WEC’s premier LMP1 class. The Spaniard will pilot the No. 8 TS050 Hybrid together with Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima, replacing Anthony Davidson who will stay on as a reserve and development driver for the team.
Alonso will make his WEC debut at Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps in May. He’s set to race in all WEC rounds that don’t conflict with his F1 schedule. Right now that’s only the WEC’s Japanese round, at the Fuji Speedway on October 21, due to it clashing with the United States Grand Prix, held at the Circuit of the Americas, in Austin, Texas. That leaves him with seven WEC rounds to contend.
“In no way will this challenge take away from my main target of Formula 1 with McLaren,” Alonso said in a statement. “In 2018, my aim is to be competitive at every grand prix, and I feel sure that we are closer to achieving that.”