Fernando Alonso’s “Triple Crown” McLaren Indy 500 Challenger Is Unveiled
It is clear what animates Fernando Alonso these days. Particularly given the two-time Formula 1 champion’s avenues to a third F1 title look closed off, for now at least. Alonso’s current over-riding aim is to complete motorsport’s ‘triple crown’. That is, claim victory in the Monaco Grand Prix, Le Mans 24 Hours and the Indianapolis 500. He’s done the first two: winning at Monaco in 2006 and ’07 and at Le Mans with Toyota last year. Completing the trio of famous race wins would put him in rarefied company, as only Graham Hill has done it. And so Alonso is to compete at 2019’s Indy 500 seeking to complete the trio, having stepped away from F1 to concentrate on the effort. Well, concentrate alongside his World Endurance Championship, F1 testing and Dakar rally car exploits he’s squeezing in too…
Alonso’s had a go at the Indy 500 before, two years ago with a McLaren-Andretti Autosport entry. He impressed too, running in the front pack–even leading for a time–before retiring with 21 laps left with an engine failure. He also was named the race’s ‘Rookie of the Year’. And the car for his latest Indy 500 effort has been unveiled at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, where the car was built. On one level there are few surprises given IndyCar has a spec chassis, yet the launched machine is in McLaren’s traditional papaya orange with blue flashes.
It also as expected competes with the number 66 in homage to the number used by Mark Donohue in McLaren’s first Indy 500 win in 1972 in a Penske-run M16. The 2019 McLaren entry will be supported by existing IndyCar team Carlin Racing and McLaren says it also has “specialist” staff for the effort. The race car now heads from the UK to the US ahead of the open test at Indianapolis on April 24, while a sister test car is being driven by Alonso at a closed test at the Texas Motor Speedway on Tuesday this week.
“I’m excited we are finally able to reveal to the world the #66 car which I’ll be racing with McLaren at the Indy 500 in May,” Alonso said upon the Indy 500 car’s launch. “The team at the McLaren factory has worked very hard to build this car ready for our return to the iconic Brickyard and I think it looks fantastic in the 2019 McLaren Racing colors. My hopes for the race remain the same, to win and achieve the Triple Crown, and I’m looking forward to meeting the fantastic US fans who made me feel so welcome first time around.”
“The reveal of the #66 car and livery is an important moment for McLaren Racing’s journey to the Indianapolis 500,” added McLaren’s boss Zak Brown. “It represents the beginning of the next phase of our program, and reflects a tremendous amount of hard work by our specialist Indy 500 team at the McLaren Technology Centre. We are all looking forward to seeing the #66 out on track for the first time on April 24.”
Images courtesy of McLaren