After Long Beach win, Mike Conway endures long day at Barber

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It was definitely not the way Ed Carpenter Racing and its road-racing ace, Mike Conway, wanted to follow up their triumph at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Conway and ECR slogged through the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama weekend at Barber Motorsports Park, and while he managed to move up seven positions to finish 14th in the rain-shortened main event, he said the outing was a “frustrating” one.

“I guess we’ll have to take 14th after starting 21st,” Conway said. “We struggled in the wet with overall grip. I tried to make a few moves in the early portion of the race and they just didn’t work out.

“We felt quicker on the [red] slicks, especially on the earlier segments of the runs. But once everyone had their tires up to temperature, we couldn’t get up to make a move. It’s frustrating. I hope we can improve on the road circuits.”

As the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis now looms on the horizon, Conway says he’s looking forward to Wednesday’s test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

But he also believes that the Barber weekend showed that there’s serious work to be done.

“I’m excited to go to Indy for the test this week on the new road circuit,” said Conway. “The race in the upcoming Grand Prix of Indianapolis will be huge for all of the drivers.

“I think everyone would love to win the first IndyCar road race at Indy. But we need to work on the setup some more to fight for a win that weekend.”

Fernando Alonso completes first test with United Autosports

Photo: United Autosports
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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.