Two-time Formula 1 champion and 2018/19 WEC champion Fernando Alonso could be eyeing a possible Dakar Rally debut. Earlier this year, the Spaniard was spotted testing the 2019 Dakar-winning Toyota Hilux in the Kalahari Desert experiencing his first rally raid with Giniel de Villiers acting as his mentor. Now, Toyota has announced that Alonso will be joining Toyota Gazoo Racing once more for five months of intensive testing with the Hilux.
“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,” said Alonso.
During the five-month testing period, Alonso will be undergoing an intensive training program in the Hilux across Europe, Africa, and the Middle East for the grueling Dakar Rally. There, the 38-year old Spaniard will be learning the off-road skills needed to tackle one of the most difficult forms of motorsports yet.
Alonso will continue testing in the deserts of South Africa this August and will have his first non-competitive outing at the 2019 Harrismith 400 in South Africa, the fifth round of the South African Cross Country Series, in September. He will be piloting the 2020 version of the Hilux that gave Toyota Gazoo Racing its first overall victory at the Dakar Rally earlier this year.
“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,” Alonso added.
While Toyota didn’t confirm Alonso’s entry to the Dakar Rally just yet, it’s safe to assume that he’s already being prepared for the gruesome rally raid event. Hopefully, we do get to see him go at it.