Madrid, Aug 20 (IANS) Spanish Formula 1 champion Fernando Alonso is to rejoin Toyota Gazoo Racing and carry out several tests with the teams new car, the Toyota Hilux which is expected to compete in the upcoming Dakar Rally.
The Japanese team said in a statement that the meeting with the double Le Mans 24 Hours winner came after his successful campaign in the 2018-19 FIA World Endurance Championship, reports Efe news.
“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,” Toyota Gazoo said in a statement.
Alonso is ‘undergoing an intensive training programme with the Toyota Hilux across Europe, Africa, and the Middle East to familiarize himself with the challenging rigours of rally raid,’ the statement said.
Alonso is to conduct tests in South Africa’s deserts on August 20-23, and a non-competitive first outing at the 2019 Harrismith 400 in South Africa on September 13-14.
“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,” Alonso explained.
The 38-year-old said that he is with the right team while chasing “new challenges in different disciplines.”
Toyota is one of the teams expected to succeed in the next edition of the Dakar Rally after his triumph over Qatari Nasser Al-Attiyah at the beginning of the year.
Toyota team director, Glyn Hall, hailed the qualities of Alonso and assured that the Spanish champion had enjoyed the experience of driving a Hilux.