Fernando Alonso is going to Dakar Rally with Toyota
The Spanish racing superstar Fernando Alonso, the two-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner, reigning FIA World Endurance Championship title holder, two-time Formula 1 World Champion, and winner of the 24 Hours of Daytona, finds a new challenge in his career – Dakar Rally.
After a successful campaign in the 2018/19 FIA World Endurance Championship, Fernando Alonso will continue cooperation with Toyota Gazoo Racing, joining the team in the upcoming months for a series of tests with the Toyota Hilux, the car that is expected he will drive at 2020 Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia.
Over the next five months, Alonso will work closely with TGR and its Dakar Rally team, undergoing an intensive training programme in the Toyota Hilux across Europe, Africa and the Middle East to familiarise himself with the challenging rigours of rally raid. Currently, he is testing the car in the deserts of southern Africa and the next challenge would be his non-competitive at the 2019 Harrismith 400 race in South Africa, the fifth round of the South African Cross Country Series, on September 13-14.
The Toyota Hilux, at the hands of Nasser Al-Attiyah, a former Olympic athlete from Qatar as well as a rally raid legend, gave Toyota Gazoo Racing its first overall victory at the Dakar Rally in January 2019. The 2020 edition will start 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.
Glyn Hall, Team Principal: “In March this year, we completed a successful two-day evaluation with Fernando in our Dakar-winning Toyota Hilux in southern Africa which proved to be a valuable learning experience. Not only did Fernando thoroughly enjoy the experience, but we could see him adapt and improve every time he got behind the wheel. It was clear that Fernando came to the test prepared and was ready to absorb everything we showed him. Rally raid is new for Fernando and I’m certain he has the skill and spirit to take on this challenge. As reigning Dakar champions with a long history in rally raid, I’m confident we can work well together with Fernando to build up his confidence for rally raid competition over the next few months.”
Fernando Alonso: “I’m really excited to continue my adventure with Toyota Gazoo Racing. Together we have achieved so much since I first drove a Toyota in November 2017, with our two consecutive wins at Le Mans, the World Endurance Championship for the team and a drivers’ title with my teammates Sébastien and Kazuki. 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. I’m really looking forward to the next few months of training, getting to know the Hilux and working with the team. I’ve always maintained I want to pursue new challenges in different disciplines and I’m at a great team to do that.”