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Alonso set for more testing in SA as 2020 Dakar Rally debut gains traction

2019-08-20 11:50
Dakar Rally Fernando Alonso

Image: Motorpress

Two-time Formula 1 champion Fernando Alonso will will join forces once again with Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa in the upcoming months for a series of tests with the Toyota Hilux, the car that is expected to compete in the 2020 Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia.

Over the next five months, Alonso, will undergo an intensive training programme in the Hilux across Europe, Africa and the Middle East to familiarise himself with the challenging rigours of rally raid.

Fernando, 38, will continue testing in the deserts of southern Africa on August 20-23, followed by a non-competitive first outing at the 2019 Harrismith 400 in South Africa, fifth round of the South African Cross Country Series, on September 13-14.

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Image: Motorpress

Gazoo Racing SA's Glyn Hall 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."

Alonso said: "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."

Giniel de Villiers and Fernando Alonso

Image: Motorpress

The aim is for the decorated racing driver to develop the off-road driving skills needed to tackle some of motorsport’s most challenging events.

Qatar's Nasser Al-Attiyah gave Toyota Gazoo Racing its first overall victory at the Dakar Rally 2019 edition. 

The 2020 edition also signals a new chapter for the Dakar Rally with the event moving to Saudi Arabia for the first time since the event’s inception in 1978, and after a successful decade in Latin America.

Fernando Alonso Toyota Dakar HIlux

Image: Motorpress

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