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January 25, 2018

Fernando Alonso

THE MODERATOR: We're joined once again by Fernando Alonso, who qualified 13th in the No.23 United Autosport Ligier LMP2, the fastest of the Ligiers, within a second of the pole‑winning time. Obviously a long race ahead, but you've kind of checked the box at least in terms of qualifying. How did it go?
FERNANDO ALONSO: I think it was a good session for us. I think it was nice to have some laps finally in the car with no traffic. Obviously when we are in the free practice, there is a lot of traffic and a lot of things going on, and now in the prototype qually, you can put some laps together and get used to the car a little bit more. I've been running not much in the tests and today, and yeah, I was happy with the laps and more or less happy with the balance. We still need to improve a little bit to find a little bit more speed, but in general, I think we did a good job.

Q. Was the car from the damage earlier in the day, is it totally fixed? Could you tell any difference?
FERNANDO ALONSO: Yeah, it was fixed. I think to be honest, the damage this morning was more esthetics than anything else. It was a little kiss on the wall, and yeah, because the sessions are quite short, we didn't have time to go back to the truck. But yeah, it was not much damage, only the body work changed, and the car feels good. As I said, maybe not as competitive as some other teams out there, but generally I think we are quite satisfied with what we achieved today.

Q. I have a question concerning the rules. In LMP2 everybody has a Gibson spec engine. Do you feel that maybe the DPi has a little bit more advantage power‑wise?
FERNANDO ALONSO: I don't think so. I think it's quite well‑organized, and I think the BOP, they have all the information from the test, and they have a lot of info, also, from LMP2 last year running and some DPi. I think only Penske is the new car. So it should be quite on top of everything.
I think our limitations are maybe different. LMP2, maybe there are some differences between some of the cars, and we know that our package is not probably the quickest, but hopefully in the race and over 24 hours, we can make a little bit of ground there and take over some places. But as I said, happy, the first of the Ligier, I think, by a good margin. We have top guys in our team. You know, Bruno Senna, he's the world champion in LMP2, so he's on the other car, and as I said, we felt competitive, and I think we achieved the maximum.

Q. On the race, as you've mentioned you've not got the quickest car. How much are you looking forward to it as just a learning experience, and how much of you is frustrated that you don't have the quickest car?
FERNANDO ALONSO: I knew before coming here that the package we had, it was not the quickest. But at the same time, I think it's a race that is long enough that you can recover the lack of performance that you may have. We are a very new team, two rookies in the car, Lando, myself, a lot to learn. So it's good, also, not to have the pressure to be super competitive and to be super fast. In a way, it's a learning experience, a learning race, a preparation, also. As I said a couple of times, if one day I attempt 24‑hour LeMans, I need to respect that race. I need to respect also this race and know that there are a lot of guys with more experience than me and more prepared than me. So if I want to be as prepared as them and to have the experience, I think this weekend is a perfect opportunity, and at the same time, as I said, some of the best guys out there and best drivers in prototype, in LMP2 last year, they are a little bit behind us. So it was a surprise for us to be in the first qualifying prototype to be quite fast, so quite happy.

Q. About qualifying, each year you don't have the tire warm‑up, and then you have to warm up the tires, and I think you gain your lap time quite constantly. What was the point that you're really taking care of your car and tires in the qualifying?
FERNANDO ALONSO: Well, the first two or three laps, you just try to survive. You know, the grip is very low. With no tire blanket, as you said, the grip is low. The car is moving around, and you try to build the temperature slowly, lap after lap, and then when you feel that it's time to push, you start taking some extra risk. The last two or three laps, you know, the last two opportunities of this qualifying, and you attack what you think is the maximum, knowing that it's a 24‑hour race, so this is probably the last important qualifying of my life, you know, until now. Normally I have 60 laps or 70 laps to recover what I may have did in qualifying, and on Saturday we have 24 hours. The qualifying was not the key point of this weekend hopefully.
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