Montoya Tipped for 24 Hours of Le Mans Debut
Juan Pablo Montoya has been tipped to make his 24 Hours of Le Mans debut with United Autosport this year. According to French media outlets Le Maine Libre and Auto Hebdo, the two-time Indy 500 winner is in talks with the team to race one of its Ligier JS P217 prototypes.
This is the same team that gave Formula One’s Fernando Alonso a seat at the 24 Hours of Daytona and raises some questions regarding whether Montoya is trying to beat Alonso to the latter’s stated endeavor to earn the “Triple Crown of Motorsports.”
The Triple Crown is an unofficial title that traditionally involves winning the Monaco Grand Prix, the Indy 500, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Only one man, Graham Hill, has ever managed it, and few drivers have even been able to lay claim to just two of the three achievements.
By virtue of how hard it is to secure a competitive F1 seat, the hardest race to win is arguably the Monaco Grand Prix, which Alonso has won twice. In 2017, Alonso made his rookie IndyCar debut at the Indy 500, where he was set to be a factor for the win before his Honda engine went up in flames. This year, he’ll be participating in the 2018-19 WEC super season with Toyota, giving him two strong shots at winning Le Mans. Presumably, if he manages it, he’ll give the Indy 500 another try.
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Montoya, however, has also won the Monaco Grand Prix…and the Indy 500. All he needs is Le Mans, giving him a good chance to beat Alonso to the punch and steal some of the media buzz the Spanish driver has been generating.
It’s nonetheless possible that Montoya has no interest in this. He won his first Indy 500 in 2000 and won the Monaco Grand Prix in 2003, and in the 15 years since has scarce shown any interest in going after Le Mans, save for a test drive in the Porsche 919 Hybrid that won the 2015 title. And he won’t have a chance at this year’s Le Mans either: he’ll only be driving in the LMP2 class, and short of a catastrophe befalling every LMP1 competitor, he isn’t likely to cross the finish line first.
Still, this could set him up for a path to LMP1 next year, and given all of the media hype and all of the deals and sponsorships that have been arranged as a result of Alonso’s pursuit of the Triple Crown, the timing ought to raise some eyebrows.
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News Source: Le Maine Libre (French language)