Two-time Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso is getting ready to compete in next year’s Dakar Rally with the completion of off-road testing with Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Hilux in Szczecin, Poland.
Over the two-day test, the Spaniard drove approximately 700 km (434 miles) across sand tracks, hard and soft soil, and various areas of bumpy terrain developed by rally raid specialists Overdrive Racing. The test was completed in the lead-up to Alonso’s first non-competitive outing in the Hilux at the Lichtenburg 400, a South Africa Cross Country Series event, on September 13-14.
“This is the first test for Fernando in Europe with the Hilux driving on very different terrains and conditions compared to Namibia two weeks ago,” team principal Glyn Hall said. “As we progress through our intensive training programme, we are focused on getting quality kilometers as Fernando continues to familiarise himself with the Hilux and rally raid, more so than pure mileage. Nevertheless, we were able to double the planned mileage for this test which demonstrates just how quickly Fernando is acclimatizing to the Hilux.”
“It was definitely a positive couple of days here in Poland where I could experiment with a different sort of terrain,” Alonso commented. “At this stage of my training, I welcome every kilometer in the Hilux and I’m happy we were able to push ourselves beyond the team’s original plans.”
Alonso all but confirmed he will compete at next year’s Dakar Rally last month at the conclusion of a series of tests with Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Dakar Rally team. Over the following five months he will continue to train throughout Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
Next year’s Dakar Rally will be held in Saudi Arabia after years of being run in Latin America.