Despite the ripples leading up to today’s announcement confirming the addition to the Toyota Gazoo Racing squad of Fernando Alonso the reality of the double World Champion’s addition to the team, and to the Championship has once again seen mainstream media interest blossom.
Toyota team sources have confirmed to DSC that they currently expect Alonso to contest a near full season, there are two clashes against currently announced calendars, the Bahrain GP clashes with the WEC Prologue test and the Fuji round, ironically a circuit owned by Toyota, moved to avoid a clash with Petit Le Mans now instead clashes with the US Grand Prix at CoTA – Will the WEC regret that decision? And will Alonso do likewise as he competes for a third FIA World Championship title.
The Prologue clash means that Anthony Davidson is likely to fulfil his Test and Reserve driver duties at Paul Ricard, as well as being heavily involved in pre-season testing.
A word for the 2014 World Champion here, Davidson having been a key player from the very start of the Toyota LMP1 programme with 10 race wins and a total of 19 podium finishes there’s little doubt that this was a very tough decision for the team, particularly when late 2017 form is considered, the Englishman playing a full part in a three race winning streak to complete the season, a season that saw five wins for the #8 crew. That said the recent history in LMP1 dictates that race appearances could well be a possibility, injury and misadventure are not strangers to the class!
The FIA WEC and ACO are clearly delighted with the news,
Pierre Fillon, President of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest: “We are proud to welcome Fernando Alonso among us in Endurance racing. The participation in the 24 Hours of Le Mans but also in the FIA World Endurance Championship, from such a champion demonstrates the challenge that our event and our discipline represents for a driver. For several years now, Fernando had shown interest in our event and the FIA World Endurance Championship. The conditions are now in place for this desire to come to fruition. Le Mans and Endurance racing will shine under the spotlight that Fernando’s presence brings, just as our race and Endurance racing will also allow Fernando’s talent to shine. ”
Gérard Neveu, General Manager of the FIA World Endurance Championship: “Welcoming Fernando Alonso for the entire 2018-2019 WEC Super Season is an immense pleasure and honour. All our fans and the great Endurance racing family are looking forward to welcoming Fernando. He is one of the greatest motorsport drivers of all time. His participation in the WEC with Toyota in LMP1 ensures a superb show. The presence of such a champion confirms the influence and attractiveness of our discipline. “