Photos courtesy Mustang Sampling Racing

IMSA: Mike Conway joins Mustang Sampling Racing for Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona

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With the 2019 Rolex 24 Hours endurance race just over a month away, defending race winner Mustang Sampling Racing has solidified its driver lineup for the Jan. 26-27 event, the start of the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.

Returning to the fold are Joao Barbosa and Filipe Albuquerque, along with Christian Fittipaldi, who will be making the final Rolex 24 appearance of his racing career.

Rounding out Mustang Sampling’s four-driver lineup for the 57th running of the Rolex 24 Hours will be veteran British sports car and IndyCar racer Mike Conway.

Mike Conway

Conway has previously raced for Action Express Racing, which is entering its fifth year of a partnership with Mustang Sampling Racing. However, this is the first time Conway will race fully under the Mustang Sampling banner.

Conway finished third for Action Express in last year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, along with a third-place finish in the 2018 12 Hours of Sebring. He also finished second in the 2017 Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.

Having won six-hour races at Fuji and Shanghai already in 2018, Conway is currently ranked second in the LMP1 standings of the 2018-19 FIA World Endurance Championship standings with three races remaining.

“I am looking forward to joining Mustang Sampling Racing and driving with Joao, Christian, and Filipe,” Conway said in a media release. “It is great to have already worked with them in the past, and as the results have shown, the team is very capable so I am eager to get to Daytona and help them hopefully bring another trophy home.”

Added Action Express team manager Gary Nelson, “We have been working hard to prepare to win at Daytona once again and we are happy to have Mike return to the team again this year.

“He is a strong team player and has made great contributions to our results in the past so he will fit in well with our line up in the Mustang Sampling Cadillac for Daytona. We are all looking forward to getting back to Daytona for the Roar to continue those preparations for the 24 at the end of the month.”

Like many of its counterparts, Mustang Sampling Racing will prepare for the Rolex 24 with the upcoming Roar Before the 24, Jan. 4-6 at Daytona International Speedway.

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Fernando Alonso will decide this summer whether to pursue F1 again

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Fernando Alonso said he will determine by this summer if he would consider a return to Formula One next season.

After announcing Tuesday that he will return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May with Arrow McLaren Racing SP, Alonso said “right now the Indy 500 will take all of my concentration” but left the door open for F1 in 2021.

“In my case, probably during the summer period, I’ll make a decision on 2021 if Formula One is still appealing to me,” Alonso told IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview (watch the video above). “The 2021 rules (in F1) are definitely a step forward, and hopefully things can be more mixed and not only three teams capable of winning races. So all this factors into play. I may consider that possibility.”

Alonso won consecutive Formula One championships in 2005-06 with Renault. He has 32 victories in an F1 career that started in 2001 and also includes stints at Ferrari and McLaren.

His last victory on the circuit was May 12, 2013 in Barcelona. He is winless in his most recent 110 starts, including the past 77 races with McLaren in 2015-18.

The Guardian recently reported that McLaren CEO Zak Brown said Alonso wouldn’t be returning to F1 with the team.

Alonso also told Diffey that returning to F1 from a two-season absence wouldn’t necessarily be linked to McLaren’s performance.

“I think they did well last year, and hopefully they make another step forward and close to the top three because they deserve it and are a fantastic team,” he said.

Though he is optimistic about more parity, Alonso said six-time champion Lewis Hamilton should be a favorite for the 2020 title based on preseason testing in which Mercedes turned heads with a new steering system.

“It seemed Mercedes is still quite competitive,” Alonso said. “They show enormous potential on the development side and on the progress from one year to next. Formula One is impossible to predict because many things happen in season.

“At the starting point, (Mercedes) are the favorites. When you have Lewis in the car and Mercedes with the potential they have, they have to be No. 1 probably.”