The two-time Formula 1 champion was instrumental in securing victory for the Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac entry he shared with Renger van der Zande, Jordan Taylor and Kamui Kobayashi, starring in the wet conditions that characterised the latter part of the race.
before the race was red-flagged a first time, and had just retaken the lead from the Action Express Cadillac of Felipe Nasr when action was halted for a second time with a little under two hours left on the clock, as Nasr went wide at Turn 1.Speaking after the race, Alonso said the worsening conditions in the run-up to the second stoppage were such that he was calling for the race to be neutralised before he passed Nasr.
“I called a lot of times, when I was second, over the radio that a safety car was necessary,” said Alonso. “The last five, seven laps of the race were not I think right, for anyone on track.
“The visibility was nearly zero, we could not be flat-out on the straights, the car was moving, the TC [traction control] was coming in sixth gear at 200mph, there were parts of different cars in different parts of the track, because people were losing bodywork here and there.
“I was calling the team for a safety car immediately because I could not see anything. Felipe went a little bit long into Turn 1, we took the lead. We were just lucky in that moment.
“I think conditions were also ok to stop the race seven laps before we did, and at that moment we were second.”
Alonso’s third stint explained
Alonso and Taylor took on the bulk of driving duties for the race, both driving for around seven hours, with Alonso returning to the wheel for a third time for the crucial final stages.
Taylor said the decision to put Alonso back in the car was made between all four WTR drivers and was based on his knowledge of the track conditions.
“We knew it would be wet at the end, and Fernando was the only [other] one that had driven in the wet,” explained Taylor. “So it was about the timing of how to get him back with the four-hour [rule], you can only drive four hours in every six hours.
“It was just up to the team and us [drivers] to talk about it to see who was most comfortable and confident. Fernando was the one that drove into the wet conditions and was most comfortable and confident, so we made that call with six or seven hours to go.”
Alonso added: “My second stint was just in the moment it started raining, so I knew the conditions, where the standing water was on track, but I could not drive until the end.
“Another driver had to jump in at this point so I could have two hours’ rest, and Jordan has a lot of experience here at Daytona, he knew also the track in those conditions, so the team decided to have Jordan and myself for the last [part of the race].”