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Fernando Alonso adds 24 Hours of Le Mans, other WEC events to 2018 racing schedule

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Fernando Alonso will be doing some moonlighting this year.

Two days after completing his first career appearance in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, Alonso and McLaren Formula One Team announced today that he’ll compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, as well as run for the FIA World Endurance Championship in addition to his F1 championship bid.

The two-time Formula One champion will do his sports car endurance racing for Toyota Gazoo Racing, McLaren announced.

“I’ve never been shy about my aim of winning motorsport’s ‘Triple Crown’ – the Monaco Grand Prix, the Indy 500, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans,” Alonso said in a statement. “We tried for Indy last year, came close, but just missed out.

“This year, I have the chance – thanks to McLaren – to race for the win at Le Mans. It is a big challenge – much can go wrong – but I am ready, prepared and looking forward to the fight.

“In no way will this challenge take away from my main target of Formula 1 with McLaren. In 2018, my aim is to be competitive at every grand prix, and I feel sure that we are closer to achieving that.”

For now, the 36-year-old Spaniard is slated to compete in seven of the eight races on the WEC schedule, which kicks off May 5 at Spa in Belgium, followed by the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 16-17.

The only WEC race Alonso will miss is the 6 Hours of Fuji, in Oyama, Japan, on Oct. 21, which is in direct conflict the same weekend with F1’s U.S. Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

Alonso is not expected to return to Indianapolis for the Indy 500, as it is run on the same day as F1’s Monaco Grand Prix.

“It’s no secret that Fernando has wanted to contest the Le Mans 24 Hours,” Zak Brown, Executive Director, McLaren Technology Group, said in a media release. “Last year, we came to the joint decision to go racing with Fernando at the Indy 500 rather than at the Monaco Grand Prix.

“But we’ve always said that we would consider each opportunity on a case-by-case basis, and we both know that, in 2018, our core priority is success in Formula 1.

“Like Fernando, at McLaren we’re racers at heart, and our team is built on a brave heritage of competing and succeeding in different forms of the sport. Equally important is the confidence that nothing detracts from our number one goal of Formula 1.

“After proper evaluation, we are satisfied that this campaign does not do that, and that McLaren’s best interests prevail.”

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.