Fernando Alonso latest surprise debut in the Legends Trophy

THE RACE
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Another multiple Formula One champion parachuted into the Legends Trophy race, but the usual faces were in victory lane.

Fernando Alonso, who is slated to attempt his second Indianapolis 500 this season, made his competitive esports sim racing debut Saturday in the doubleheader at virtual Circuit Zandvoort in Zandvoort, Netherlands.

Alonso, who won consecutive F1 titles with Renault in 2005-06, showed impressive speed in practice and qualifying but was unable to finish either race.

He qualified fourth in the opener but got caught up in several incidents. Early contact with Tiago Monteiro in the nightcap eliminated Alonso in a spectacular airborne crash.

The Legends Trophy is open to former drivers older than 40, but Alonso, who turns 39 in July, was granted a provisional entry. Four-time F1 champion Sebastian Vettel, 32, also was exempted for the May 2 races in the series, which allows former from Formula 1, IndyCar, sports cars and rally to compete virtually every Saturday at tracks around the world.

Sports car aces Jan Magnussen and Emanuele Pirro (who have a combined nine victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans) led wire to wire in each race for Round 3 race of the Legends Trophy in The Race All-Star Series powered by ROKiT Phones.

Magnussen won by 5.541 seconds over Jenson Button in the opener. Juan Pablo Montoya finished third ahead of Mika Salo.

“I wasn’t sure if I could put it on pole, but I knew I could put it in the top three probably, said Magnussen, the father of Haas F1 driver Kevin Magnussen. “I had a good start, and there was a little bit of stuff going on behind me that gave me a gap so I could just do my own thing – I’m very pleased with that.”

A 10th in the opener cost Pirro the points lead, but he rebounded by starting on pole in the reverse-grid second race. Pirro won by 9 seconds over Andy Priaulx and Darren Turner.

“I tried to push hard in the first one,” Pirro said. “I tried to keep out of trouble and it didn’t work! So, I think I deserve that one. The pace was not fantastic, but I am happy for a win.”

Button, the 2009 Formula One champion, took the points lead with a second in the opener and a fifth in the second race. Magnussen trails Button by 28 points with two rounds left. Montoya, who finished fourth in the second race, moved up to third with 206 points.

Next Saturday, the Legends Trophy will head to Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where Alonso also plans to race with the series again.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III