Emanuele Pirro

THE RACE

Fernando Alonso latest surprise debut in the Legends Trophy

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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.

β€œI 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. β€œI 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.

β€œI 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.