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

United Autosports
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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.

Three-time W Series champ Jamie Chadwick joining Andretti in Indy NXT Series for 2023

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Jamie Chadwick, the three-time W Series champion, will drive for Andretti Autosport in the Indy NXT Series next season.

Chadwick will make her debut in an American racing series in March, driving the No. 28 for Andretti Autosport with sponsorship from DHL. The 24-year-old will become the first female driver in 13 years to compete full time in the Indy NXT championship.

Chadwick joined the female free-to-enter W Series in its inaugural 2019 season, winning two races and the first of three consecutive championships. She has been a reserve driver for the Williams Formula One team and will continue in that role in 2023. She also has driven in the Extreme E Series.

Despite her success, Chadwick hasn’t landed a bigger ride in F3 or F2, and her break didn’t come until Michael Andretti contacted her and offered a test in an Indy NXT car.

The final three races of this year’s W Series schedule were canceled when funding fell through, but Chadwick still believes the all-female series was the right path for her.

“W Series has always been and will continue to be an opportunity to be racing for every female driver, so for my side, I looked at it while perhaps I would have liked to step up maybe earlier, at the same time being able to have that chance to race, get that experience, have that development, seat time… I was constantly learning,” Chadwick told The Associated Press.

“In that sense, I wasn’t frustrated at all. But on the flip side of it, now I’ve had that experience testing in the United States in Indy NXT and this is something I’m really excited about.”

Chadwick also is expected to have an enhanced role as a development driver next season with Williams, which chose American driver Logan Sargeant to fill its open seat on next year’s F1 grid.

“Andretti Autosport is proud to be supporting Jamie alongside DHL,” said Michael Andretti. “Jamie’s successful career speaks for itself, but Indy NXT gives Jamie the opportunity to continue her development in a new type of racing.

“We’ve turned out five Indy NXT champions over the years and look forward to continuing our role in developing new talent.”

Indy NXT is the new name of the rebranded Indy Lights Series, the final step on the ladder system before IndyCar.

Andretti will field two drivers next season in IndyCar that were developed in Indy NXT: Kyle Kirkwood, the 2021 champion, will return to Andretti after one season in IndyCar driving for A.J. Foyt Racing, and Devlin DeFrancesco is back for a second season.

Chadwick will be teammates in Indy NXT with Hunter McElrea and Louis Foster. She becomes Andretti’s second full-time female driver alongside Catie Munnings, who competes for Andretti United in the Extreme E Series.