Alonso looks to re­turn to work with Indy 500 vic­tory

New Straits Times - - Sport -

IN­DI­ANAPO­LIS: Fer­nando Alonso will be hop­ing to re­turn to his McLaren For­mula One day job next week with an In­di­anapo­lis 500 vic­tory and an­other jewel in mo­tor rac­ing’s Triple Crown.

For over a cen­tury the Indy 500 has been a mag­net to mo­tor rac­ing gi­ants and thrill seek­ers ea­ger to test their skill and brav­ery on the sprawl­ing 4.16km oval known as the Brick­yard.

Dash­ing Spaniard Fer­nando Alonso, a twice For­mula One world cham­pion, is the lat­est driver to ac­cept the chal­lenge in a one-off bid to match the late Bri­ton Gra­ham Hill — the only man to claim the Triple Crown of mo­tor sport with vic­to­ries at the Monaco Grand Prix, Indy 500 and Le Mans 24 Hours race.

The 35-year-old Alonso has no ex­pe­ri­ence of Le Mans ei­ther but has in­di­cated that, while tack­ling the French race would be an eas­ier leap be­cause the cars are more sim­i­lar, the chal­lenge would have to wait un­til af­ter For­mula One.

When the Spaniard was granted leave by McLaren to skip the Monaco Grand Prix to chase Indy 500 glory to­day it seemed a far­fetched dream for a driver who had never sat in an IndyCar never mind try­ing out oval rac­ing on one of the most no­to­ri­ous and dan­ger­ous tar­macs in all of mo­tor sport.

But the Spaniard, twice a grand prix win­ner on the streets of Monaco, has proven to be a quick learner and has al­ready show­cased his im­mense skill by clin­i­cally com­ing to grips with the nu­ances of oval rac­ing to qual­ify in fifth place.

“I feel ready,” de­clared Alonso. “Lack­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for sure be­cause (it is) my first time with ev­ery­thing that is go­ing to hap­pen from rolling starts and all these things, but at the same time I have worked very, very hard over the last month so I can­not be bet­ter pre­pared than I am.

“Maybe it is not enough but I could not do any­thing more than this.”

This year 33 driv­ers, in­clud­ing four rook­ies, from 10 coun­tries and both sexes will take the green flag.

Scott Dixon, the 2008 win­ner, grabbed pole po­si­tion last week­end on a Sun­day full of drama that be­gan with him tak­ing P1 and ended with a gun pointed to his head dur­ing a rob­bery while he was buy­ing fast food at a drive thru restau­rant.

Lin­ing up along­side the pop­u­lar New Zealan­der is In­di­anapo­lis na­tive and twice pole sit­ter Ed Car­pen­ter and last year’s win­ner Alexan­der Rossi.

“This is the big­gest event on the cal­en­dar each year and it’s the one we set out to win first,” said Dixon.

“We fin­ished sec­ond here a cou­ple of times and it’s al­most the worst place to fin­ish when you come so close.

“We come here to win, and that’s the only goal. If we don’t achieve that, we’re dis­ap­pointed.” Reuters

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