Tom Kristensen has given his seal of approval to Fernando Alonso’s bid to compete in this year’s Le Mans 24 Hour race.
“I admire the way Fernando goes about his racing,” the nine-time Le Mans winner said. “He has a passion for motorsport as a whole, and not only his career in Formula 1
“He’s done Indianapolis and Daytona and now he’s preparing for Le Mans,” he continued. “Fernando is very well informed about Le Mans
Kristensen was responding to the official confirmation that Alonso will drive for Toyota in this year’s race.
“I’ve talked to him a few times about it over the years,” Kristensen revealed. “He has always shown great interest in the event. When he saw the prototypes he found them incredibly fascinating.”
Alonso got his first taste of endurance racing at the weekend. He was taking part in the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona for United Autosports.
The car suffered a tyre blow-out and brake failure, meaning that Alonso and team mates Lando Norris and Phil Hanson finished well down the running order.
Nonetheless, it gave Alonso valuable experience of extended three-hour stints and racing at night – ideal preparation for Le Mans.
“This challenge is absolutely wonderful,” said Kristensen. “When you get into the rhythm and the car’s performing there is simply nothing better.
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Having retired in 2014, Kristensen admitted that he missed taking part at Le Mans. However, he insisted that he wasn’t considering returning to active duty.
“I’ve turned 50 now so I can very easily walk away and watch,” he said. “This year will be no exception.”
But Kristensen will be back in action this weekend in the 2018 Race of Champions. This time the annual tournament is being held in Riyadh on February 2-3.
Norris is one of the other drivers taking part, as well as former F1 drivers Juan Pablo Montoya and David Coulthard. IndyCar drivers Helio Castroneves, Josef Newgarden and Ryan Hunter-Reay, and former rally champion Petter Solberg are also in the line-up.
However, Sebastian Vettel has opted not to take part. And other current F1 drivers have declined, perhaps mindful of the accident in last year’s even that sidelined an injured Pascal Wehrlein from the first two Grand Prix races of the season.
Kristensen said it was the chance to race in different cars against drivers from across the world of motorsport that appealed to him. He said it was the same spirit that drove Alonso to compete in the Indy 500, Daytona and Le Mans.
“This kind of versatility was what I saw as I grew up, watching the greats from Mario Andretti to Jacky Ickx,” he said. “Then others who I competed against in many different kinds of racing.
“It shows the true spirit of racing,” he added.
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