Alexander Rossi’s month of June just got a bit busier with the announcement Wednesday he will make his debut in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, June 22-23. Rossi will race in the No. 41 Greaves Motorsport Zytek Nissan in the LMP2 class, with co-drivers Tom Kimber-Smith and Eric Lux. The American replaces Christian Zugel, a businessman and amateur driver, in the team’s lineup. Zugel’s family and business commitments will prevent his participation in this year’s race.
Rossi, 21, will participate in free practice one at the Canadian Grand Prix for Caterham, where he is one of the team’s two reserve drivers, on June 7. Le Mans is a week-plus event with the pre-race test day on June 9, scrutineering (technical inspection) the following Sunday and Monday and track activity beginning Wednesday, June 19.
“We are sorry to lose Christian from our Le Mans lineup, he has been an integral part of the team over the past two seasons and brings many elements from his business world that have helped us,” said team manager Jacob Greaves. “We are fortunate to have signed a driver of Alexander’s caliber and we are confident that we can combine our strengths to challenge for the LMP2 class victory at 90th anniversary Le Mans 24 Hours.”
A host of former Formula One and IndyCar pilots will be in the 56-car field for the race. Greaves had a car with Martin Brundle and son Alex a year ago, who co-drove with Lucas Ordonez.
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.