Fernando Alonso and Lando Norris completed a constructive three-day test with teammate Phil Hanson for United Autosports at last weekend’s ‘Roar’ test at Daytona.
United Autosports will return to the Daytona International Speedway later this month primed for the Rolex 24 At Daytona race week (25 - 28 Jan). The team clocked up a total of almost 1,500-miles with its brace of Ligier JS P217 sports-prototypes at the ‘Roar’ that compete for top-placings in the annual race being run for the 56th time.
Practice was split into seven sessions over three days with a total of 510mins of on-track time for the 50-car, three class field which included evening running last night in preparation for the opening round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Five of its seven driver squad had never even seen, let alone driven on the 3.56-mile, 12-turn course utilising sections of the famed DIS “banked oval” plus infield section prior to Friday’s opening test session.
Fernando and Lando experienced only their second test in the Ligier while Bruno Senna, United’s only driver with previous Daytona race experience, had his very first run with the team on Friday morning.
Fernando Alonso, driver car #23, United Autosports:
“It’s been a positive test but we need to find more pace. It was good to experience the Daytona track for the first time. I now feel better prepared for the race in terms of having to make compromises due to sharing the car. It was good to work with Lando, Phil and the team.
"Driving in the night session was not a big difference as the circuit is well illuminated – also in F1 we have some races in the dark – I had no big issues with that or the traffic. I had a very nice welcome from the American fans and cannot wait to see more of them at the race.”
Lando Norris, driver car #23, United Autosports:
“We’ve made progress every day and all three #23 drivers are working well together but there is still a way to go in terms of car performance. I arrived at Daytona with less than 200 testing miles from Paul Ricard under my belt. We’ve been playing catch-up compared to our rivals due to Ligier’s new aero kit which we’re running for the first time.
"Although we’ve had seven sessions over the past three days, with three drivers sharing the car the time behind the wheel goes very quickly. But it’s been a fun experience and the DIS is super cool.”
Zak Brown, Team Owner and Chairman, United Autosports:
“I’m very excited about United competing at the Rolex 24 for a second time. We’d originally planned a one-car entry but here we are at the Roar with two cars, each with outstanding driver line-ups.
"It’s been a tough test for us with masses for everyone to learn in a short space of time. The Rolex will unquestionably be difficult but it’s a long race which will hopefully allow us to show the endurance skills that has brought us multiple race and championship success in Europe.”
Richard Dean, Team Owner and Managing Director, United Autosports:
“We’ve learned an awful lot over the past three days and accumulated masses of data which we’ll now analyse. I firmly believe that we’ll come back for race week in a good position in terms of pace compared to our rivals. The Roar has been a big challenge and at times difficult for us but nevertheless a vital event.
"We’ve needed to adapt much of our equipment – the requirements are totally different to what we’re used to in Europe. Everyone in the team has worked extremely hard and this past week will allow us to come back much stronger and better prepared.”
What’s next for our drivers on their Daytona journey? Qualifying on begins on 25th January.