Toyota Gazoo Racing has released details of the steps being taken by Fernando Alonso in an attempt to compete in Dakar Rally.
Following their first official test in March, Toyota has now released details of Alonso’s next plan of action with a roadmap being presented by the Japanese manufacturer in an attempt to compete in Dakar Rally in 2020.
Alonso posted an image of being in a desert on Monday with Spanish media confirming his move to cross-country rallying. On Tuesday, Toyota confirmed of Alonso’s upcoming tests to assess his comfort level.
It is interesting to note that Toyota hasn’t confirmed Alonso to compete in Dakar 2020 yet but the idea is that with a series of tests and lower level rallies in Europe, Africa and the Middle East in the coming months.
Alonso will continue familarise himself in a Toyota Hilux – the car which won the 2019 Dakar Rally – in the next five months. His first test starts on August 20 which will continue on until August 23 in Africa.
It will be followed by his first non-competitive outing at the 2019 Harrismith 400 in South Africa, which is the fifth round of the South African Cross Country Series, on September 13-14.
“I’m really excited to continue my adventure with Toyota Gazoo Racing,” said Alonso. “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 Sebastien 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.”
Team principal Glyn Hall added: “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.”