When it was recently announced that Fernando Alonso would race in the 24 Hours of Daytona in January, it was described as a warm-up for an eventual attempt to win Le Mans. "Eventual" may come pretty fast: It now looks like the Formula One champion will race in the Le Mans 24 Hours next season as well.
Or so reports BBC Sport, which says he'll race for Toyota. But wait, there's more: The BBC also says he's in talks with Toyota to drive most of the entire World Endurance Championship — while keeping his day job driving for McLaren in F1.
"Le Mans is agreed," a source close to Toyota told the BBC. "The rest of the season is still being negotiated, but it looks like he will do most of the races."
BBC's sources say Alonso will drive a Toyota WEC car in the season's last race, in Bahrain on Nov. 19, to get his feet wet. The season's final Formula One race is the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Nov. 26.
Neither Alonso nor Toyota would confirm an impending deal. Alonso said at practice for this weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix: "So far, nothing to comment. We will see. Just rumors."
What's motivating him is this: He's 36 years old and is intent on becoming only the second driver, after Briton Graham Hill, to win motorsport's Triple Crown. That entails winning the Formula One title (or just the Monaco Grand Prix according to one interpretation) as well as Indianapolis and Le Mans.
He has won Monaco as well as the 2004 and 2005 world titles. He recently signed a contract extension keeping him at McLaren in 2018.
As for the Indy piece of the Triple Crown, Alonso famously raced there this year and was running competitively when his Honda engine failed in the closing stages of the race. So expect to see him there again as well.
Racing with Toyota at Le Mans and other endurance races should give him better luck than he had this season with McLaren-Honda in F1 and at Indy. Though Toyota has never won Le Mans, it is known to be developing a new WEC car.
Traveling the globe to race in both the WEC and F1 in the same season sounds grueling, but it might be possible. The circuits have provisional schedules, and there's just one conflict — the U.S. Grand Prix and a WEC race in Japan are both penciled in for Oct. 21.
But McLaren sounds none too keen on him doing the whole WEC schedule. McLaren racing director Eric Boullier told the BBC: "He has said he is keen to do some races outside. There is a case-by-case discussion. His main and first focus is F1, so that has to be the priority. We do everything we can to give him a competitive car and if he has this he will not race anything else.
"I don't think you can physically do two programs. It would be complicated. Doing Le Mans or Indianapolis or Daytona, why not; it's a one-off. But more than this it is definitely a distraction from his main commitment."
Fernando Alonso reportedly will race for Toyota at Le Mans originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 10 Nov 2017 18:57:00 EST.