Tony Kanaan battled hard and jumped seven spots to claim fourth place in today’s Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg — a far better outcome than the 25th-place result he was saddled with last year at St. Pete because of a battery failure.
Kanaan appeared set to battle KV Racing Technology teammate Simona de Silvestro for the podium late, but a surging Marco Andretti got by Kanaan for fourth with five laps remaining. Then, as the field headed for the white flag, Kanaan would follow Andretti past De Silvestro for his final result.
“My car was flawless while on track,” Kanaan said. “The only problem we had during the race was that I couldn’t shift into neutral during my last stop. That cost me three spots on track and made me work a bit more for this fourth place finish. I was impressed that my last set of scuffed red Firestones lasted that long and I can’t say enough about my Chevy engine.”
Kanaan also talked about his teammate’s valiant effort to hang on to third place as the laps ticked down.
“It’s unfortunate that Simona couldn’t hold on for third place,” he said. “She was running strong up front until she had no more tires. She deserved the podium.
“I guess Marco had a newer set of Firestones than both Simona and I, so it was just a matter of time for him to get by us.”
Still, between Kanaan’s fourth and De Silvestro’s eventual sixth, it was a good day overall for the KVRT crew.
“We’re very excited about the results,” team manager Steve Moore said. “We had a couple of issues in the pits, but the drivers and the crews rebounded. It’s not the end result that we wanted, but we’ll take the positives out of it and move on to the next race.”
Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso enjoyed his first outing with United Autosports, with whom he will contest the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, in their Ligier JS P217 LMP2 chassis.
The McLaren Formula 1 driver completed the test at Motorland Aragon in Spain alongside co-driver Phil Hanson, who will be a teammate with Alonso at next year’s 24-hour Daytona enduro. Filipe Albuquerque, a former GT class winner at the Rolex 24, was also on hand to help Alonso and the team ahead of Alonso’s first run in an LMP2 car, which comes only a couple days after he made his LMP1 testing debut with Toyota. Albuquerque races with Mustang Sampling Racing in IMSA, but will return to United’s European Le Mans Series program for all but one race in 2018.
“I had a great first test with United Autosports. Obviously, we are on a really tight schedule between now and Daytona, but it was nice to jump in the car for the first time,” said Alonso, who will rejoin the team at the official Roar Before the 24 test on January 5-7.
Alonso added, “There’s quite a few switches and things to study so it was important to do this initial shakedown before Daytona, so I could fully learn about the car. I’m happy with everything – the car felt great and the team were fantastic. The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so today has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”
Team owner Zak Brown, who also serves as executive director of McLaren Technology Group and helps lead the McLaren Formula 1 effort, shared Alonso’s enthusiasm and was not surprised he was able to acclimate himself relatively quickly.
“Fernando’s first test with United Autosports went awesome as expected. He is a world champion and it is a pleasure to have him in our car,” he said of Alonso’s debut with the team.
Alonso is currently schedule to contest the Rolex 24 with the aforementioned Hanson and McLaren test driver Lando Norris.