WTR made space for Fernando Alonso's Daytona tilt
Wayne Taylor says his squad quickly made space for Fernando Alonso once it was clear that the Spaniard wanted to compete at this weekend’s Daytona 24 Hours.
Alonso entered last year’s event – his first endurance race – as part of his preparation for his ultimately successful tilt at the Le Mans 24 Hours with Toyota.
Alonso competed for McLaren boss Zak Brown’s United Autosports operation 12 months ago but the pace of its Ligier JS P217 meant it was never in contention for overall victory.
Wayne Taylor Racing, meanwhile, took victory at the 2017 running of the event, 12 years on from its previous win, while Renger van der Zande claimed pole position in 2018 aboard its Cadillac Dpi-V.R.
Van der Zande and Jordan Taylor were already confirmed for the No. 10 entry for 2019 and Taylor had lined up Kamui Kobayashi to complete the three-driver effort when Alonso’s interest was noted.
“Zak introduced me to Fernando and, a couple of weeks later, I inquired if he was available for this year,” said Taylor ahead of this weekend’s event.
“Over the next several months, it looked like a possibility, and then it went away.
“In the meantime, we continued our search for a third driver and we went looking through the entire WEC and all forms of sportscar racing for a driver who was not only fastest over one lap but over long periods of time, and clearly the person who came to the top of that list was Kamui.
“I called him one night and it turned out to be three in the morning where he was, and he quickly called me back and said he wanted to drive for us. So we finished that deal pretty quickly.
“Then, some time later, through McLaren and Zak, all of a sudden I got a text asking if there’s still a seat for Fernando. I said, ‘I’ll make one available.'
“Very quickly, again, we made a deal and here we are.”
The upcoming Daytona event is the first of Alonso’s so-far limited 2019 programme, which includes the remainder of the World Endurance Championship season and his Indianapolis 500 tilt with McLaren, having opted out of staying in Formula 1.
“Formula 1 is all about qualifying and the first lap, the start, the first corner,” he said.
“Here, it’s more about consistency, about traffic management, keeping the car safe and alive for the last couple of hours, so it’s a different approach to racing.
“It’s challenging but it’s part of the process but, in one or two sessions, you’re up to speed and should be OK for the 24.
“The targets are higher this year but, at the same time, I know how these 24-hour races work, how difficult it is to predict all the things that will happen in 24 hours.
“Sometimes we might feel down and frustrated with things happening on the track, with traffic, a lot of things.
“We just need to stay calm and execute the race as best we can and see what happens. Even if the expectations are high, 24 hours is a long time.”