Most racing drivers tend to stick to one series for long periods of time and rarely attempt switching to other disciplines.
Competing in various racing series during the same calendar year is something very unusual, yet that’s exactly what the two-time Formula 1 world champion has been doing in recent years. The Spaniard wants to become the second driver in history after the legendary Graham Hill to win the Triple Crown of Motorsport (Monaco GP, Indy 500, and 24 Hours of Le Mans).
The Indy 500 is the only race of those three he hasn’t won yet, despite two attempts in 2017 and 2019. It now appears that Alonso has set his sights on another legendary event: the Dakar Rally, as he will join forces with Toyota Gazoo Racing in the upcoming months for a series of tests with the Hilux Dakar racer.
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Following a two-day evaluation test in March, Alonso will work closely with Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Dakar Rally team over the next five months and undergo an intensive training program in the Hilux across Europe, Africa and the Middle East. The goal is for the Spaniard to familiarize himself with the challenges of rally raid.
The 38-year-old 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.
The Toyota Hilux won the overall victory at the 2019 Dakar Rally earlier this year in the hands of Nasser Al-Attiyah, a former Olympic athlete from Qatar as well as a rally raid legend. For 2020, the Dakar Rally moves to Saudi Arabia for the first time since the event’s birth in 1978, and after a successful decade in Latin America.
"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," said Glyn Hall, Toyota’s Dakar Rally Team Principal.
"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.