Fernando Alonso Actually Took the Lead at the 2018 Rolex 24

Are you surprised?

byCaleb Jacobs|
IMSA photo


Fernando Alonso, two-time Formula 1 world champion and Rolex 24 moonlighter, was able to nab the overall lead at Daytona just two hours into the day-long race. His team, which is driving the No. 23 United Autosports Ligier LMP2 car, faced problems in testing and practice, eventually qualifying in 13th position for Saturday's race start. However, after a slew of drama in the Prototype class, Alonso lept ahead of a field of Cadillacs that landed him in P1. 

Alonso and co. didn't seem to have much hope for a top-notch performance at this weekend's race early on. In fact, during a press conference on Thursday, team boss Zak Brown admitted that he didn't "plan on leaving with any watches" at the end of the event. While the checkered flag is still far off, 'Nando's stellar performance, combined with a dose of luck opportunity, made for prime conditions to take advantage of the number one spot. 

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Early action in the Prototype class included woes from Mazda Team Joest's No. 55 entry which lost its left front wheel mid-race. This setback forced the team to fall towards the rear of the field and caused a two-lap gap after hour two.

Another major competitor for Alonso and UA, the No. 6 Penske Acura ARX-05 piloted by Helio Castroneves, Ricky Taylor, and Graham Rahal, faced problems with unscheduled pit stops. According to a statement from Helio in a press conference, Taylor had issues with the car's door after a driver switch, forcing them to pull in later for a painful but necessary fix. 

Alonso has since switched out of the No. 23 Ligier LMP2 car, giving up the lead with more than 21 hours to go in the famed race.