Fernando Alonso, Toyota Gazoo Racing eye taking on Dakar Rally
HAVING scored back-to-back 24 Hours of Le Mans wins with Toyota Gazoo Racing (GR), two-time Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso is now looking at taking on the Dakar Rally.
Alonso and GR will perform a series of tests with the Toyota Hilux, which is expected to compete in the next Dakar Rally.
Over the next five months Alonso will work closely with GR’s Dakar Rally team, undergoing an intensive training program in the Hilux across Europe, Africa and the Middle East to familiarize himself with the rigors of a rally raid.
The reigning FIA World Endurance Championship title holder — also a winner of the 24 Hours of Daytona — will push his limits to develop the off-road driving skills needed to tackle some of motor sport’s most challenging events.
Alonso have already trained in the deserts of southern Africa on August 20-23. Next up is a non-competitive first outing at the 2019 Harrismith 400 in South Africa, the fifth round of the South African Cross Country Series, on September 13 and 14.
Toyota vehicles have been a favorite at the Dakar Rally, with privateer and works teams accounting for over one quarter of total entries in the car category in the 2019 edition. The Hilux, driven by Nasser Al-Attiyah, gave GR its first overall victory at the Dakar Rally earlier this year.
The 2020 edition also signals a new chapter for the Dakar Rally with the event moving to Saudi Arabia for the first time since the event’s inception in 1978, and after a successful decade in Latin America.
“I’m really excited to continue my adventure with Toyota Gazoo Racing…. I got a taste of off-road rallying earlier this year and it left me with a good feeling that I want to prolong. I knew it would be a totally different experience with a steep learning curve but the Hilux just felt great; it gave me so much confidence so quickly and I was improving loop after loop,” Alonso said, adding he is “looking forward” to the next few months of training and getting to know the Hilux.
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