F1 star Fernando Alonso to race in SA this weekend

Fernando Alonso races in SA this weekend at the Lichtenburg 400 offroad event. Picture: SUPPLIED
Fernando Alonso races in SA this weekend at the Lichtenburg 400 offroad event. Picture: SUPPLIED

Former two-time F1 world champion and Le Mans winner Fernando Alonso will be racing in SA this weekend as part of his preparations for next year’s Dakar Rally.

The 38-year-old Spaniard will be driving a Gazoo Toyota Hilux in a noncompetitive outing in the Lichtenburg 400, fifth round of the SA Cross Country off-road racing series, in the North West Province on Friday and Saturday.

It is part of Alonso’s intensive training programme to familiarise himself with rally raid racing ahead of his possible debut in the 2020 Dakar, which will take place in Saudi Arabia for the first time.

WE WERE ABLE TO DOUBLE THE MILEAGE FOR THIS TEST WHICH DEMONSTRATES HOW QUICKLY FERNANDO IS ACCLIMATISING

The driver, who looks to broaden his already remarkable motorsport career across multiple disciplines, has experimented with different types of terrain and recently also tested the Gazoo Hilux in Poland and Namibia.

The aim is for Alonso to contest the iconic Dakar marathon in 2020, but he reportedly has the option of backing out if he doesn’t feel sufficiently prepared in time for January’s event.

“We were able to double the planned mileage for this test which demonstrates just how quickly Fernando is acclimatising to the Hilux,” said team principal Glyn Hall.

“Rally raid is new for Fernando and I’m certain he has the skill and spirit to take on this challenge.”

Alonso said: “At this stage of my training, I welcome every kilometre in the Hilux. It’s really great to be part of the Toyota Gazoo Racing family and be given opportunities to try my hands at different types of motorsport. The Hilux has been really fun to drive and I’m enjoying every test.” 

Toyota are the reigning Dakar champions, with Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah winning this year’s event in Peru.

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