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Rolex 24: Alonso ends up 13th in Prototype during Rolex 24 debut

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The driver with perhaps the most amount of attention on him at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona was two-time FIA Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso, who along with United Autosports was making his debut at the Rolex this past weekend.

The race began well for Alonso, who started the No. 23 Ligier JS P217 Gibson. He steadily worked his way forward and even led for a brief time during an exchange of pit stops early in the race. Despite falling a lap off the lead in the opening hours, he and co-drivers Phil Hanson and Lando Norris seemed poised to be contenders throughout the race.

However, during the night, things took a turn for the worse. After suffering a punctured right-rear tire, one of a number of teams to suffer tire problems during the race, the car began to suffer from brake problems, forcing Alonso into the pits unexpectedly and eventually into the garage for repairs.

Even though they were able to rejoin, they did so having lost an insurmountable amount of ground. At the end, they were 90 laps down to the race-winning No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi, finishing 13th in the Prototype class (38th overall).

Alonso lamented such problems, as he felt that the car had the pace to compete for a podium finish. “The pace was there. We didn’t have the pace in practice and qualifying, but today we were very competitive. We were second-third fastest. At least a podium was a possibility,” he said during the FS1 broadcast.

However, he remained upbeat about the experience, emphasizing that he enjoyed driving the LMP2 car. “It was a shame but nevertheless, I’m having fun,” he said after climbing from the car following his final stint. “I’m sad when there’s a driving change, I don’t want to get out of the car because when I’m driving it, I’m enjoying it. It’s been a nice experience.”

Speculation now turns to whether or not Alonso’s next 24-hour endurance race will be this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. With no Formula 1 race clashing with it, it is possible that he could be entered in that race, although nothing has been confirmed at the moment.

Alonso will now return to his regular duty as a driver for McLaren F1 Team.

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NHRA: Brittany Force cleared to race this weekend in Phoenix after bad wreck 2 weeks ago

Photo: John Force Racing
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Drag racing is a Force family tradition. So, too, is not keeping a Force family member down.

Just 12 days after the most serious wreck of her six-year drag racing career, Brittany Force and John Force Racing announced late Thursday afternoon that the defending 2017 NHRA Top Fuel champion has been medically cleared and will indeed race in this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix, Arizona.

“I flew into Phoenix early this (Thursday) morning and headed straight out to the race track to meet up with my team,” Force said. “I suited up and got belted back into my car that I ran all last season.

“It honestly felt good to be strapped back in and I was surprised how comfortable I was. I’m looking forward to getting back in my car tomorrow (Friday’s first two rounds of qualifying) and getting back in the swing of things with my guys.”

The 31-year-old Force, one of four daughters of 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force, suffered a concussion and bruising after the hard crash she was involved in on February 11 in the first round of eliminations of the season-opening NHRA Lucas Oil Winternationals in Pomona, California.

Shortly after leaving the starting line in a race vs. Terry Haddock, Force’s dragster crossed from the right to left lanes, impacted the retaining wall with a very hard lateral crash, bounced off, spun, went on its side and briefly caught fire after crossing the finish line wheels-up.

While she is still recovering from the bruising, Force feels strong enough to get back behind the wheel. Getting back in the race car could be the best medicine of all, since she has three runner-up finishes in Phoenix, including back-to-back second-place showings in both the 2016 and 2017 national events.

The three-day event kicks off Friday with qualifying rounds at 4 and 6:30 p.m. ET, the same times as Saturday’s qualifying. Final eliminations begin at 1 p.m. ET Sunday.