ALONSO EYE­ING TRIPLE CROWN

Spa­niard’s am­bi­tion is to win it even as de­bate about three jewels goes on

New Straits Times - - Sport -

LON­DON

But that was not how the late Graham Hill, a five-time Monaco win­ner and also a dou­ble For­mula One world cham­pion like Alonso, saw it after com­plet­ing the only triple crown to date at Le Mans in 1972.

“It’s the (F1) world cham­pi­onship for driv­ers, In­di­anapo­lis and the Le Mans 24 Hours,” he told broad­caster Shaw Tay­lor in a 1975 in­ter­view for the Thames Tele­vi­sion ‘Drive In’ pro­gramme that can be tracked down on YouTube.

“In­di­anapo­lis pro­duced more loot than the oth­ers,” he con­tin­ued when asked which race had been the most en­joy­able.

“Le Mans I thought was a very nice thing to have won after sev­eral years of try­ing, and it did mean that I did win the Triple Crown.”

His wife Bette, in her 1978 book ‘The Other Side of the Hill’, also de­scribes it that way.

For Alonso the ar­gu­ment over whether it is Monaco or cham­pi­onship that counts is aca­demic, since he has also won both, but he said that he con­sid­ered the cham­pi­onship to be more sig­nif­i­cant.

For oth­ers, the dis­tinc­tion does mat­ter in the ar­gu­ment about who has come clos­est to match­ing Hill.

Cana­dian Jac­ques Vil­leneuve has a strong claim, hav­ing won the F1 cham­pi­onship in 1997, In­di­anapo­lis in 1995 and fin­ished sec­ond with Peu­geot at Le Mans in 2008. He never won Monaco, but that does not trou­ble him.

“It’s the world cham­pi­onship that counts,” he said.

“Monaco is just one race that’s part of F1...you can do the Indy 500 and Le Mans on their own, you can­not just do Monaco on its own.

“I think some peo­ple think about it (as part of the triple crown) be­cause in the 1950s it was kind of a stand-alone race, it was very dif­fer­ent,” he said. “But the cham­pi­onship has the value.”

For those who ar­gue that Monaco has to be part of the Triple Crown, be­cause it is a race like the other two, then Juan Pablo Mon­toya can claim to have come clos­est most re­cently.

The Colom­bian has won twice at In­di­anapo­lis and tri­umphed at Monaco in 2003 with Williams.

Go­ing fur­ther back, the late Aus­trian Jochen Rindt won Monaco and Le Mans and was also For­mula One world cham­pion posthu­mously.

Bri­tain’s Jim Clark won In­di­anapo­lis, chug­ging the win­ner’s bot­tle of milk, and the F1 ti­tle but not Monaco — a race he missed when he won at the Brick­yard in 1965.

“My dad won all the Monaco grands prix that Jim didn’t win be­cause he was in Indy, I think,” Graham’s son Da­mon said, with a smile.

“The funny story is that there was some mix up over the lap chart (in 1966) and so my dad wins it and then Jim says some­thing like ‘there might have been a mix-up, I might have won the race.’

“And Dad says ‘too late, I’ve al­ready drunk the milk.’

On another level, Hill wel­comed Alonso bring­ing the Triple Crown back into the gen­eral con­ver­sa­tion.

“It couldn’t have been bet­ter timed be­cause some­one in Ger­many has just brought out a Graham Hill range of men’s groom­ing prod­ucts,” he grinned.

“Maybe it should have been called the ‘Triple Crown’ or some­thing.” Reuters

REUTERS PIC

Fer­nando Alonso dur­ing prac­tice for the In­di­anapo­lis 500 IndyCar on Thurs­day.

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