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McLaren announce that Fernando Alonso will race at the Daytona 24 Hours

, Editor-in-chief

McLaren have officially announced that Fernando Alonso will race at the 56th Daytona 24 Hours for United Autosports alongside Lando Norris and Phil Hanson.

This will be the first time the Spaniard has raced in a prototype sports car, but it’s not the first time he has taken part in a one-off event. He entered the Indianapolis 500 this year with Andretti Autosport, and was in strong contention for the win before his Honda engine gave up. There could be possibility of more one-off events for Alonso next year under his new contract.

The Rolex 24 At Daytona is held at the Daytona International Speedway in Florida and acts as the series opener for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

The official test takes place on 5 - 7 January with the 24 hours being held two weeks later on 26 - 27 January.

"What an exciting and interesting project. " said Alonso. "Learning about a completely new racing category, adapting to a different car and to another style of driving and everything that goes with it, is a new challenge for me and I can’t wait to test myself again as a driver.

"The Daytona 24 Hours is the most iconic US endurance race and one of the world’s great races. 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. It will be good to get behind a wheel again! Thanks to United Autosports for having offered me this opportunity and thanks to McLaren for supporting me in this new exciting adventure."

Team Owner and Chairman of United Autosports, Zak Brown said, “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."

Team Owner and Managing Director, Richard Dean said, "To say we are running Fernando Alonso at Daytona for the 24-hour race is pretty special for everybody here at United Autosports. Fernando is a quality act and will take to sportscars immediately.

"He has such a wealth of racing experience and this will no doubt be a huge benefit to the team and his young team-mates throughout the week of the iconic Rolex Daytona 24 Hours. We have a very exciting line up and I expect to be very competitive."