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Fernando Alonso anchors victory in first Rolex 24 stopped by rain

AP

Fernando Alonso deftly maneuvered through some of the most dangerous driving conditions of his career to grab another victory in a bucket-list event.

Alonso drove a Cadillac DPi to the front of the field in each of his three stints in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, including the final pass for the lead in a heavy rain, on a slick track, with almost no visibility. The race was red-flagged minutes after Alonso put Wayne Taylor Racing out front, and IMSA pulled the plug about two hours later.

The decision to call the race came 10 minutes before the scheduled conclusion and marked the first time rain prevented the Rolex from going the full 24 hours. It also was the first time in race history the event was stopped twice for red flags for rain.

Alonso was sitting under a blanket on the Taylor pit stand when the race was called.

“It’s too bad we didn’t get to race the full distance, but we led the race in night, day, dry, wet, so I think we all kind of deserve this one,” he said.

Alonso joined Phil Hill (1964) and Mario Andretti (1972) as F1 champions who also won the most prestigious sports car event in North America. Alonso, who has two F1 titles, retired from that series in November.

The Spaniard now has won the Rolex, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Monaco Grand Prix. The next big event on his schedule is the Indianapolis 500 in May, the one victory he needs to complete auto racing’s unofficial version of the Triple Crown.