Alonso reckons Ron Dennis would have blocked Indy 500 attempt

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Fernando Alonso believes that former McLaren boss Ron Dennis would have blocked his bid to join the grid for the 101st Indianapolis 500.

Dennis announced in November that he had been forced out of McLaren after more than 35 years at the helm of the F1 team and company, overseeing a number of championship wins and the growth of its road car division.

Dennis was replaced by American businessman Zak Brown, whose efforts to secure Alonso a ride for the Indy 500 led to Wednesday’s shock announcement, the Spaniard entering as part of a joint effort between McLaren, Honda and Andretti Autosport.

Speaking in Thursday’s FIA press conference in Bahrain, Alonso admitted that he did not think Dennis would have agreed to let him take part in the ‘500 and miss the Monaco Grand Prix had he still been in charge of McLaren.

“I guess not. I think Zak is a man that has a bigger vision than other team principals or bosses that I have had,” Alonso said.

“He sees motorsport differently, he sees McLaren bigger, not only concentrated in Formula 1. McLaren won Le Mans a couple of times, won the Indy 500 a couple of times as well.

“I think he’s a true racer so it’s great McLaren and Zak joined forces last year, that’s a good thing.”

Alonso’s entry to the ‘500 comes at a time when McLaren’s F1 operation is struggling on-track, with the two-time world champion seemingly resigned to another year of making up the numbers.

However, he stressed that McLaren’s struggles did not influence his decision to join the grid at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, instead relishing the chance to try and win one of motorsport’s biggest events.

“It’s true, it’s a good motivation. The possibility to win a big race, a big trophy like the Indy 500 in the middle of a year is like winning a world championship in one weekend,” Alonso said.

“You have two possibilites in one year. It’s very attractive, but it’s not that it came to our mind because this year we are struggling or the last two years we are not competitive.”

Alonso did, however, admit that he would not have agreed to miss Monaco for the ‘500 had he been in contention for the championship.

“If the car was competitive this year and we were 43 points together with the other two guys you could not afford to lose 25 points possibility by missing one race,” Alonso said.

“So probably it would be different if we were competitive.”

Pippa Mann returns to Dale Coyne Racing for seventh Indianapolis 500 bid

Photo courtesy Dale Coyne Racing
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Pippa Mann announced Tuesday that she plans to drive in her seventh Indianapolis 500 on May 27.

The native of Ipswich, England will once again return to race for Dale Coyne Racing, with new sponsorship by Donate Life Indiana.

She had previously been sponsored the last four years in the 500 by the Susan G. Komen organization. She’ll continue to carry logos of that organization on the front wing of her car in the 500, Mann said.

Mann, 34, has raced six times in the 500, with a best finish being 17th in last year’s race.

Mann will fill out the four-car Dale Coyne Racing field for the Greatest Spectacle In Racing. She’ll be teammates with Sebastien Bourdais (No. 18 Team SealMaster Honda in a partnership with Vasser-Sullivan), Pietro Fittipaldi (No. 19 The Paysafe Car Honda) and Conor Daly (No. 17 U.S. Air Force Honda in a partnership with Thom Burns Racing).

Mann will make her first practice laps for this year’s 500 on Tuesday, May 15. Qualifying is May 19-20.

Mann’s No. 63 Honda will have a significantly different look than in the last few years. Instead of pink, her car will feature a silvery blue and light green paint scheme wrapped around a Donate Life Indiana logo.

“I am honored to have been asked to drive the Donate Life car this May and to partner with Donate Life Indiana as an ambassador to raise awareness on our mission to help reach even more Hoosiers through our education efforts,” Mann said in a media release. “This is obviously a campaign with a pretty deep personal meaning for me, and I am humbled to have the opportunity to join the racers carrying this cause forward.

“I also want to thank Dale and Gail Coyne for once again giving me this opportunity to pilot one of their entries this May. This will be my sixth year with Dale Coyne Racing and I’m truly grateful that they allow me to do this every year.”

Mann will also serve as a spokesperson for the organization and to raise awareness for youth education initiatives in Indiana, most notably organ, tissue and eye donor registration.

In addition to her driving duties in the 102nd running of the 500, Mann will also visit schools across the Hoosier State to speak about the importance of organ donation and transplantation.

“Our education team is committed to partnering with Pippa and students and teachers across the state to bring the message of organ donation and transplantation to as many students as possible,” said Steve Johnson, board chairman for Donate Life Indiana.

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