Formula One World Champion, Fernando Alonso has begun an “intensive training programme in the Toyota HiLux” to prepare him for the 2020 Dakar Rally.
The Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota HiLux won its category (car category) at the 2019 Dakar Rally thanks to Nasser Al-Attiyah, with two-time Formula One world champion, Fernando Alonso set to pilot a HiLux at the 2020 Dakar Rally.
In a statement, Toyota said, “Over the next five months, Fernando, who looks to broaden his already-remarkable motorsport career across multiple disciplines, will work closely with TOYOTA GAZOO Racing and its Dakar Rally team, undergoing an intensive training programme in the Toyota Hilux across Europe, Africa and the Middle East to familiarise himself with the challenging rigours of rally raid”.
Fernando Alonso said “I’m really excited to continue my adventure with TOYOTA GAZOO Racing. 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 Sébastien 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.”
Alonso has been testing the Hilux in the deserts of southern Africa this week, and will get his first non-competitive outing at the 2019 Harrismith 400 in South Africa, on September 13-14.
Speaking about Alonso, Glyn Hall, Team Principal said, “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.”
The 2020 Dakar Rally will see the event move to Saudi Arabia after a decade in Latin America.