United Autosports

Brown talks up ‘awesome’ Alonso after maiden sports car tests

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Fernando Alonso’s preparations for his sports car racing debut in January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona got off to an “awesome” start in a private LMP2 test at Motorland Aragon earlier this week with United Autosports.

Ahead of a possible entry to the 24 Hours of Le Mans next June as part of his bid to win the Triple Crown of Motorsport, two-time Formula 1 world champion Alonso will appear at Daytona in his first sports car racing appearance.

Alonso tested an LMP1 car with Toyota last Sunday in Bahrain before returning to Europe to test United Autosports’ Ligier JS P217 car that he will race at Daytona.

United Autosports team boss Zak Brown – also Alonso’s F1 boss at McLaren – talked up the Spaniard’s display in Friday’s FIA press conference ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

“He’s a true racer,” Brown said. “I wasn’t at his test in Bahrain so I’ve only spoken to him briefly about it. I think he found the way the cars, with their energy systems and the recovery work, are fascinating.

“I was at the test in LMP2 and as you would expect he was awesome, very focused and what we saw was the least amount of fall-off over a run that we’ve seen of any racing driver in our cars.

“So he is definitely on the top of his game right now.”

Alonso is set to continue his private testing program through the winter before appearing at the ‘Roar Before the Rolex 24’ test in early January at Daytona.

BREAKING: John Force taken to hospital after Phoenix eliminations crash

Photo courtesy NHRA
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16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force has been taken to a local hospital for evaluation and examination following a wicked crash with fellow Funny Car driver Johnnie Lindberg.

The crash occurred during the quarterfinals of Sunday’s final eliminations in the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix.

Force was headed for a win when the engine on his Peak Chevrolet Camaro blew up just as it crossed the finish line, destroying the body. Lindberg, meanwhile, lost traction about one-third of the way down-track, but then got back into the gas to try and catch Force.

Force appeared to lose control of the body-less car and went across from the left lane he was in to the right-hand lane, where he hit the retaining wall in front of Lindberg.

Lindberg tried to avoid Force, but couldn’t. To make matters worse, the body on Lindberg’s car then came off and Force’s and Lindberg’s cars got tangled up in Lindberg’s parachute, sending both chassis’ into the left retaining wall.

Lindberg emerged from his Funny Car under his own power and was checked at the medical center before heading back to his pit.

Force, meanwhile, was helped out of his mangled wreck by the NHRA Safety Safari and was transported by ambulance to the hospital due to the severity of the impact.

Even though Force will be credited with the round win, he obviously will not be able to continue for the remainder of the eliminations.

To add insult to injury, NHRA officials charged Force with oiling down the racetrack, his third of the season in just the first two races. That will cost him 15 points in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series standings and a fine of $4,000.

Here are several posts from social media, including video of the incident from NHRA:

This is the second time Force has had an engine explode and the body blew off in the last two weeks. He also wrecked during the qualifying Feb. 9 for the season-opening Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, California. Here’s the video of that wreck:

MORE: John Force taken to hospital as a precaution after Funny Car motor explodes.

We’ll update Force’s condition when it becomes available.

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