Rolex 24 newcomer United Autosports are rookies in name only
To become a champion, you have to start at the beginning as a rookie.
That is so true this weekend for United Autosports. Not only is the Great Britain-based team making its first-ever appearance in the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway, six of its seven drivers are Rolex rookies, as well.
But that doesn’t mean they’re rookies in total.
The two-car Ligier LMP2 entry features an impressive driver lineup, led by two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso, who has long sought to drive in the Rolex and is finally getting that chance this weekend.
Also on the team is former Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) champion Paul Di Resta, reigning 2017-18 Asian Le Mans Series LMP3 champion Phil Hanson, reigning FIA Formula 3 European Champion Lando Norris, ex-F1 driver Bruno Senna plus Hugo de Sadeleer and Will Owen.
Only Senna, nephew of the late F1 champion Ayrton Senna, has experience in the Rolex, having made his first appearance in the 24-hour endurance last year.
Alonso (from Spain) will spearhead the team in Car No. 23, along with Hanson and Norris (both from Great Britain), while Senna (Brazil)will lead the way in the No. 32 along with Sadeleer, Di Resta and Will Owen.
United Autosports will be making its second appearance in a 24-hour event, having finished fifth overall in the 24 Hours of Le Mans last year, as well as winning the European Le Mans Series LMP3 championship.
While it may be new to Daytona, United Autosports has high goals for the Rolex 24.
“We’re heading to Daytona aiming for a top-five finish,” team owner and chairman Zak Brown said. “It’s a very long and very hard race with a quality 50-car entry.
“Most teams have many years of Rolex and Daytona race experience to help them. We’ll need everything aligned to achieve that kind of result.
“And while we’ve quickly achieved success in Europe, Richard (team owner and Managing Director Richard Dean) and I are under no illusion it’s going to be a very tough weekend.
“But that’s what all of us at United thrive on and we’re all very excited to be racing the Rolex this weekend.”