Fernando Alonso makes history at Daytona in heavy rain
Spanish driver Fernando Alonso on Sunday won the 57th edition of the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona race by coming in first in the classification at the wheel of his one-seat Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi No.10 driving for Wayne Taylor Racing when the contest was suspended for the second time due to rain and all the cars were boxed.
His teammates in the winning effort were US driver Jordan Taylor, Japan’s Kamui Kobayashi and Holland’s Renger Van Der Zande.
Although the race came to a frustrating conclusion, especially for the thousands of fans in the stands, before it was halted Alonso had put on a fabulous performance in the rain with several spectacular passing moves that ultimately gave his team the win.
It was the Spaniard’s second time participating in the most important race of the US season and the opening event of the IMSA calendar, and this time he made history by becoming the first Formula One champion to win at the Daytona International Speedway.
This is the second time a Spaniard has won the race after Antonio Garcia did so in 2009 in the DP category.
Brazil’s Felipe Nasr, driving for Whelen Engineering Racing and at the wheel of a one-seat Cadillac DPi No.31 - whom Alonso had passed just two laps before the race was halted - and US driver Alexander Rossi, with Team Penske and handling an Acura DPi No.7 came in second and third in the contest on Sunday afternoon.
Colombia’s Sebastián Saavedra came in first in the LMPA2 class piloting an ORECA No.18, while Brazil’s Augusto Farfus, with a BMW MB GTE No.25 won in the GTLM (GT Le Mans) category and Germany’s Christian Engelhart won in the GTD class at the wheel of a Lamborghini Huracan GT3 No.11.
But it was Alonso who significantly outshone his rivals when he got behind the wheel for the second and third time in a race that had only 593 laps - the shortest in history - rather than the 808 of ran last year.
The 2017 edition of the race was also plagued by rain and was ended on the 659th lap.
This year’s race was ended after 23 hours and 50 minutes and was suspended two times after a total of 18 flags. The rain had begun to fall 14 hours into the race and continued until the contest was halted.
Just minutes before the second red flag halting the race, Alonso had managed to pass Nasr, thus ensuring his team the victory when the race could not be resumed.
But amid the chaos created by the torrential rain that resulted in dozens of crashes and close calls, Alonso seemed able to easily and calmly overcome the most difficult and complicated situations during his stints at the wheel.
The Spaniard is the 22nd person in history to win both the Daytona 24-hour race and the Le Mans 24-hour contest, but he’s just the third to also win a Formula One title.