sport news – Alonso should be fastest at Le Mans, says Bell
LONDON (Reuters) – Fernando Alonso can win this month’s Le Mans 24 Hours sportscar race on his debut with Toyota however the double Formulation One world champion might nonetheless be within the fallacious automobile, in line with five-times winner Derek Bell.
The 76-year-old, one of many greats of endurance racing and a double sportscar world champion, advised Reuters that Le Mans was a race that selected its winners.
“He ought to win, and Toyota ought to win, however we’ve had that many instances earlier than,” Bell mentioned at a Motorsport Corridor of Fame occasion.
“I drove for Renault once we led by 16 laps at eight o’clock within the morning and by quarter to 9 we had been out.
“That’s racing and it’s robust as heck. However they (Toyota) have put all the things into it and I simply pray and hope they haven’t obtained one thing foolish that goes fallacious.”
Alonso is the large identify on the Sarthe circuit this yr, even when Le Mans is at all times a crew effort, and is combining a full Formulation One season for McLaren with the World Endurance Championship (WEC) for Toyota.
He desires to turn out to be solely the second man, after the late Briton Graham Hill, to finish the ‘Triple Crown of Motorsport’ by successful Le Mans, the Indianapolis 500 and Formulation One championship/Monaco Grand Prix.
The 36-year-old led at Indianapolis final yr earlier than retiring with an engine failure.
Alonso gained on his WEC debut, the Six Hours of Spa in Belgium in a automobile shared with Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima and Switzerland’s Sebastien Buemi, and was quickest in final Sunday’s official Le Mans testing.
Bell was by no means shocked.
“He ought to be (quickest), shouldn’t he?. He’s good. There’s little doubt about it. The nice ones at all times go fast,” he mentioned. “I didn’t anticipate something completely different.
“No doubt, the most important publicity is Alonso being at Le Mans. So if they’ll get him within the automobile and provides him the works simply to get the quickest lap, they may do it.”
Toyota are the one main producer entered within the endurance traditional, following the departure of champions Porsche, and are bidding to turn out to be solely the second Japanese entry to win after Mazda in 1991.
The crew secured pole place with a document quickest lap final yr however had their hopes dashed in an agonizing half hour after midnight when their prime two vehicles retired.
Bell jokingly prompt Toyota might need to “retire quickly again to Japan and by no means seem once more” in the event that they failed once more however racing was a merciless sport.
“I want all of them the perfect. However they’ve obtained to win, and so they in all probability will. However they won’t. It’s such a lottery,” mentioned the person who took 4 of his Le Mans wins with Porsche.
A newly-published guide ‘All My Porsche Races” chronicles that historical past and he shall be again at Le Mans once more this yr for the June 16-17 race.
“Don’t overlook, it’s 3,000 plus miles, there’s all of the site visitors on the market, there’s the climate circumstances, there’s driver capability and site visitors at nighttime and rain which he (Alonso) hasn’t completely skilled to any nice diploma,” mentioned Bell.
“And then you definitely get on the market and Woman Luck is available in and knocks you about.
“It’s within the lap of the gods. It’s Toyota’s time to win however I don’t envy them that. They’ll be sitting on their nerves the entire time.”
If all goes properly, and Alonso stands on the highest of the rostrum together with his crew mates, Bell mentioned the Spaniard can be a deserving winner.
“The man is likely one of the biggest drivers we’ve seen in lots of, a few years,” mentioned the Briton.
“The publicity he’s bringing for Le Mans is magnificent. The explanation the folks will go this yr is to see Le Mans, as a result of it’s Le Mans, however a hell of rather a lot will go simply to see how properly Alonso goes.”
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, modifying by Christian Radnedge