Fernando Alonso has admitted United Autosports needs to find more pace in it’s Ligier LMP2 car to be able to contest for the win in the Rolex 24 after finishing Daytona 24 Hours testing outside the top ten.
Alonso set the #23 car’s fastest time of the three-day test at Daytona International Speedway during Sunday’s pre-qualifying session, ending up quicker than co-drivers Lando Norris and Phil Hanson.
However, the lap was only good enough to put the Spanish driver 12th fastest, falling 1.7s short of the quickest time set by former Formula One rival Felipe Nasr in the Action Express Cadillac.
“There are still little changes going on and it’s the same with the performance of the car,” said Alonso.
“Obviously it’s early days, it’s only testing, but we need to find more pace and hopefully be more competitive when we come back in the race.”
Although his times weren’t fast enough for the top spot, Alonso says his main focus over the test weekend was getting used to sharing a car with co-drivers.
The two-time Formula One world champion also admitted he was taken back by the short amount of time he got in the car, with the seven sessions across the three days varying from 45-minutes in length, to 2 hours at the most.
“The amount of laps is not huge but it’s better than nothing and I feel more prepared now for the race, for sure,” said Alonso.
“It was a good weekend to work with the guys, with the team, with the teammates and enter into this mood of sharing everything and adapting and making compromises between all of us to be happy all around.
“Probably the biggest surprise was the little time that you spent in the car.
‘The sessions were not very long and you share the car so you lose a little bit of time in the driver changes, in the set-up changes and you ended up doing very few laps.
“That was maybe the surprise and what I was missing this weekend but I think that’s part of the game and in the 24 Hours we will accumulate enough laps for sure.
“That was the main priority for the weekend and it’s what we achieved. That was a positive thing.
The Spaniard entered the weekend expecting to find it tough to adapt to night-time driving and dealing with slower traffic in the form of other classes, but found both fairly straightforward.
“It was no big difference compared to the daytime,” he said of Saturday’s after-dark running.
“Also in F1 we have some night racing in Bahrain, Singapore and Abu Dhabi.
“The circuit is quite well illuminated here, it’s maybe not like other endurance circuits so I found no big issues there.
“Same with the traffic, that I was a little bit afraid of.
“There are always some moments and some risks when you are overtaking cars here and there or if they are fighting each other but that’s a normal thing that everybody will face, not only us the rookies.
“So that’s something that we should be on top of for the race as well.”
The annual ROAR before the 24 test was dominated by the Cadillac DPis with the Action Express, Wayne Taylor Racing and Spirit of Daytona teams leading the way at some point across the weekend.
Filipe Albuquerque topped the opening day aboard the Mustang-Sampling backed car, before Nasr stole the fastest time in Day 2 behind the wheel of the Whelen Engineering Cadillac.
Nasr again emerged fastest in Day 3 for Action Express Racing.
The Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona race weekend takes place from January 25-28.