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Perez keen on future Rolex 24 at Daytona appearance

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Sergio Perez would like to enter the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the future after getting a taste for the sports car event earlier last year when watching his brother race.

Two-time Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso announced on Thursday he would be entering this year’s race at Daytona with United Autosports, acting as his first foray into sports car racing ahead of a possible shot at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the future.

Alonso is one of the most active drivers in F1 engaging with other championships, leading to questions for his peers about possibly wanting to race at Daytona in the future.

Perez said he was keen to appear in the Rolex 24 someday, having attended last year’s race to see his brother, Antonio Perez, on-track.

“I think it’s good experience,” Perez said. “Obviously, Fernando is wanting to experience that route a lot, with Indy, the 24 Hours and probably he might think of Le Mans.

“I think it’s a great, you know. I think it’s a great experience. It’s one of those races that you would like to do at some point.

“I went there actually last year to see my brother. He did the race the 24 Hours in Daytona, and it’s an amazing race and an amazing venue.

“It’s one race that I definitely want to do at some point in my career.”

While no other drivers openly expressed their interest in Daytona, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen said he would consider doing a sports car race someday, but only alongside his father, ex-F1 racer Jos.

“Of course the first priority is to stay as long as possible in F1, but if I like it then maybe I will do it, but I only want to do it with my dad,” Verstappen said.

“I think after F1 to get the same sensation is really hard, so I try to do that as long as possible.”

Michelin appoints new North American motorsports director

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Michelin North America has named Tony Ménard as director of motorsports, effective Jan. 1, 2020.

Ménard is succeeding Chris Baker, who has held the role for the past eight years. Baker is scheduled to retire in March of 2020, ending a lengthy career that began with Michelin in 1982.

“Chris has played a vital role in the growth and success of our motorsports program, both for BFGoodrich and Michelin in North America,” said Matthieu Bonardel, global director for Michelin Group’s motorsports business entity. “His passion and understanding for motorsport fueled growth in the organization and established credibility in the market. Chris’s leadership propelled the Group, which experienced tremendous success with race wins, and advanced the way the brands leveraged our motorsports participation to benefit the overall business.”

A native of Le Mans, France, Ménard has served in several positions during his 30-year career with Michelin, most recently serving global business leader for Michelin brand in the passenger-vehicle category. Ménard has worked closely with the North American motorsports team since early July in preparation for the transition.

Baker oversaw the development of the motorsports function for Michelin and BFGoodrich Tires brands as a single business unit in North America. He also directed the expansion of Michelin’s involvement in IMSA sports-car racing as the “Official Tire of IMSA” and BFGoodrich Tires partnership with SCORE International Racing as the “Official Tire of SCORE.”

During Baker’s tenure, BFGoodrich achieved an unprecedented 650 off-road class wins, including five overall victories in the Baja 1000. The brand also demonstrated performance in the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires, Lucas Oil Off Road Racing, Ultra4 King of Hammers, and provided strong support of grass roots racing across North America with the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), National Auto Sport Association (NASA), and Super Production Challenge in Canada.

“I am incredibly grateful to Michelin for the opportunities and support throughout my career, and to all the folks that I have worked with and continue to work with,” Baker said. “I want to thank all the teams, partners, officials and fans who have made our relationships so successful and are essential to the brands’ successes. I look forward to witnessing the continued success of our motorsports programs under Tony’s leadership, as well as the contributions of the Michelin Motorsport North America staff and volunteers, who are completely dedicated and invested in representing our brands in competition.”