Pic planning early start for Korean GP

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Charles Pic is set to make an early trip to Korea ahead of next weekend’s grand prix as he looks to adapt to the climate and location in time for the race on Sunday, comparing his preparations to those undertaken ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix.

Pic has enjoyed a strong season so far, proving himself to be the fastest of the four ‘backmarker’ runners from Caterham and Marussia across the course of the year. However, in recent races, teammate Giedo van der Garde has posed a stiff challenge to the Frenchman, but Pic will be keen on re-establishing his dominance in Yeongam next weekend.

“I’ll be back on the F1 trail as early as next Monday when I leave for South Korea,” Pic explained. “Like Singapore, I’m flying out early to get used to the time difference and climate.”

Despite the circuit not being a favorite among drivers and personnel travelling to Korea, Pic is a fan of the track which was intended to be half-permanent/half-street circuit.

“I must admit that I enjoy the Yeongam circuit, which has some excellent fast sections and three tricky hairpins. On the technical side, the big question will be tires. Last year we had a lot of problems with the fronts, while normally it’s the rears we have to look after, so it will be a case of monitoring if we have the same issues this time around. All we can do is wait and see.”

Pic’s future with Caterham is uncertain following Heikki Kovalainen’s entry into the race for a seat with the team in 2014. The Finn is thought to be in line to partner either Pic or van der Garde, placing pressure on the two current drivers for the rest of the season.

Plans for Alonso sports car debut in Rolex 24 gathering speed

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Plans for McLaren Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso to appear in next year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona are gathering speed as the two-time World Champion angles for a drive at Le Mans in 2018.

Alonso announced on Thursday he had signed a new, multi-year deal to remain with McLaren in F1, but has left the door open to continue his pursuit of the Triple Crown of Motorsport and become just the second driver in history to complete it.

Alonso has won the Monaco Grand Prix twice and made his Indianapolis 500 debut this year, retiring with an engine issue, and has made no secret of his ambition to race at Le Mans one day.

With no date clashes, the possibility exists for Alonso to race at Le Mans in 2018, potentially with Toyota in the LMP1 class following McLaren’s split with Honda.

However, Alonso could make his 24-hour race debut five months earlier, with reports emerging on Thursday that he could be in line to appear in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.

First reported by Sportscar365, Alonso could be set to race for McLaren executive director Zak Brown’s team, United Autosports, at Daytona in January, with no clashes existing with his F1 commitments.

Alonso remained coy when asked about the chances of him appearing at Daytona, but admitted additional preparation for a possible Le Mans appearance would be of interest.

“For the Indy 500 it was a nice experience, I felt very competitive but it was a big challenge that I took from zero, from no testing, not any similar race before it,” Alonso said, as quoted by Reuters.

“If I want to prepare Le Mans, maybe there are other possibilities to prepare Le Mans a little bit better than I prepared the Indy 500.”

He added more about his other race program in Thursday’s pre-race Paddock Pass episode, speaking to NBCSN. “To be the best driver in the world you have to win in different series at different times. It’s possible I can compete in different races next year,” he said.

Brown said he would be happy to field Alonso at Daytona, and confirmed their pair had already loosely discussed it.

“If Fernando wants to do Daytona and we have a seat available, we would put his name on it happily,” Brown said.

“We’ve started joking around about it, and we saw where jokes got us last time,” he added, referencing the eventual entry to the Indy 500.

United Autosports will field two JS P217 cars at Daytona in January, and has already confirmed ex-F1 racer Paul di Resta, McLaren junior Lando Norris, American endurance racer Will Owen and Danish youngster Philip Hanson in seats.

McLaren reserve and 2009 F1 world champion Jenson Button had been linked with a drive for United Autosports at Daytona, but Brown confirmed to Sportscar365 this was no longer an option.

“Jenson won’t be driving for us. I don’t know what he’s going to be doing,” Brown said.

“I thought he was going to be in the Penske car. Not sure what happened there.”