F1 star Alonso injects new life into fading Le Mans race

Source:AFP Published: 2018/6/14 22:18:42

Fernando Alonso's first appearance in the Le Mans 24-Hour Race this weekend has given a lift to the mythic race and to the World Endurance Championship (WEC).

A declining sport is ­suddenly in the grip of Nando mania.

Alonso is far from the first Formula One driver to cross over in recent years, but his impact has been immediate.

The Six Hours of Spa-­Francorchamps, where the Spaniard made his WEC debut in May "showed a 3.51 percent rise in attendance compared with 2017," said a WEC spokesperson.

That's good news for a discipline that has, in the last two years, lost Audi and Porsche, leaving Toyota, Alonso's team, alone in the top category (LMP1).

Victory at Le Mans would take Alonso a step closer to the triple crown of racing. He won the Monaco Grand Prix in 2006 and 2007 but finished 24th in his only Indy 500 last year.

Media interest in Le Mans has been slipping. Between 2013 and 2017, the number of journalists accredited fell from 1,405 to 1,225.

WEC said it accredited 482 media representatives for the Belgian race, up from 460 last year, adding that was a record for the course for a non-F1 race and that it anticipates an increase at Le Mans "particularly from Spanish media."

In Spa, almost all the questions at the press conference were in Spanish. At Le Mans on Wednesday morning, there was not enough room for all the journalists who wanted to attend Alonso's press conference.



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