Fernando Alonso Will Race the 2020 Dakar Rally in a Toyota Hilux
The two-time F1 champ will add another iconic race to his already impressive portfolio.
Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa announced today that two-time Formula One champ and two-time Le Mans winner Fernando Alonso will race one of the team's Toyota Hilux 4x4 pickup trucks in the Dakar Rally, Motorsport.com reports. Marc Coma will join him as a navigator.
The factory Toyota team is expanding their effort to four cars, with Giniel de Villiers, Bernhard ten Brinke and defending Dakar champion Nasser Al-Attiyah finishing up their line-up. Alonso was spotted behind the wheel of the team's Hiluxes back in March, so this announcement feels a bit like confirmation of the obvious. Alonso's insatiable need to race all the vehicles cannot be stopped, even by last year's disaster of an Indianapolis 500, uh, almost-attempt.
As such, Alonso has been training for the Dakar since August, Motorsport.com reports, with an appearance in South Africa's Lichtenberg 400 rally, where he finished 16th in the event. He then competed in the Morocco Rally—an event that is traditionally considered a warm-up for the main event—and had been running in the top 10 there until crashing into a ditch and ultimately finishing 26th. That being said, Alonso showed a lot of promise there, setting top 10 times in three of the five stages.
This Friday and Saturday, Alonso will do a two-day test in Tarragona, Spain, before competing in the Ula Neom Rally on November 4-9. Ula Neom is part of the Saudi Arabia Desert Rally Championship, so it should be good practice in conditions similar to Dakar's. The Dakar Rally moves to Saudi Arabia next year and will run from January 5 to 17.
Toyota may do one more test in Abu Dhabi directly before the Dakar Rally, Motorsport.com notes, however, that has yet to be confirmed.