The Dakar Rally is undoubtedly one of the toughest motorsport competitions in the world. Drivers have to race nearly 8,000 km and contend very rough terrain going over sand, dunes, rocks and everything else in between. In fact, some even consider just finishing the race an achievement in itself.
This year's event, which took place in Saudi Arabia for the first time, saw two-time Formula 1 Champion Fernando Alonso take on the gruesome event in a specially-prepared Toyota Hilux. In his debut race, the Spaniard managed to finish in 13th place; not a bad finish considering it was his first time competing. What really made his finish impressive was the fact that Alonso did so without a windshield.
At the one point during the race, Alonso rolled his Hilux and damaged the windshield. Rather than having it replaced, he decided to just remove the broken windscreen and ran without it to make up time. Considering Alonso has numerous experience driving without a windshield in F1, it should have been fine. Unfortunately, Dakar is off-road. As such, driving is nearly impossible without a windshield in the desert with all the dust.
The feat earned him praise from Toyota president and Master Driver Akio “Morizo” Toyoda. “Since he joined Toyota in rally raid, he drove without a windscreen many times. But I wasn't worried. I knew he was good at driving a car without a windscreen like in F1. So I was quite convinced he might be faster without one!” Toyoda said in a statement.
Though Alonso didn't win this year, we hope to see the Spaniard take on Dakar once more next year. Maybe then, he will be able to add the title of Dakar winner to list of ever-expanding motorsport career.