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Monday, April 23, 2018

Juan Pablo Montoya's pursuit of the triple crown

Por Jack Leyva

Juan Pablo Montoya has been more than two decades racing, but at his 42 years, he is not a driver who is afraid of challenges. That is why he is preparing himself to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, one of the most prestigious tournaments in motor racing. The Colombian, winner of the Monaco Grand Prix and of the Indianapolis 500, is the only active driver that has won two legs of the Triple Crown of Motorsport thus being just a step ahead of winning the Graham Hill’s Triple Crown.

The Colombian will race with the North American team United Autosports in the LMP2 category, driving a Ligier JS P217-Gibson, in which his winning options are not so good due to the potency of some of the rivals’ cars, like the Toyota TS050 Hybrid, that will be using the Spanish Fernando Alonso. Nevertheless, Montoya is very enthusiastic about participating in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the oldest endurance race in the world (started in 1923), where he would be followed by quarter millions of spectators, taking as reference the attendance numbers registered last year.

Montoya will have in his team the American Will Owen and the Swiss Hugo de Sadeleer, who ended up fifth in the general classification with the Portuguese Filipe Albuquerque. In the Circuit de la Sarthe, a traditional site of the race, the Colombian racer will bring his experience and will provide the team with his star quality, which is precisely what it takes to win, according to Zak Brown’s words, owner of United Autosports. Montoya will also have the opportunity of trying to complete Graham Hill’s Triple Crown, for which at least a triumph in the Monaco Grand Prix is mandatory, as well as the Indianapolis 500 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. So far, Graham Hill, the British pilot who raced between the years of 1958 and 1975, is the only one who has conquered that feat, while Montoya is the only active pilot that has at least two of this victories.

The Colombian made in Monaco (2003) one of his seven wins in Formula 1, driving a Williams-BMW, one of the two teams in which he was hired from 2001 to 2006, the time in which he competed in this modality. In the two final years of his trajectory with this kind of cars, Montoya raced with McLaren, with which he got seven of the 30 podiums of his career. Before that, he had won in the 2000 the Indianapolis 500, which was enough for him to get the Rookie of the Year Award. Besides, Montoya was the winner in 1999 with the Chip Ganassi Racing team, in which he got nine podiums and seven titles. Although he has not had that many individual achievements, the Colombians’ career has been mostly in NASCAR, modality in which he has won three circuits and has been, for 111 times, included in the Top-10.