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Alonso Tests Toyota’s Dakar Rally Winner

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Alonso Testing Toyota Hilux Dakar
Photo: ToyotaMotorsportGmbH | YouTube

Fernando Alonso said the Dakar Rally-winning Toyota Hilux he’s been testing in South Africa this week “feels incredible” after making his first test runs.

Giniel de Villiers, winner of the 2009 Dakar, drove alongside the two-time Formula One world champion in a separate 2019-spec Hilux, which won this year’s Dakar with Nasser Al-Attiyah at the wheel.

Alonso had never before driven a Dakar rally vehicle but said he felt more comfortable than he had expected after racing around an 8-kilometer loop and then a 17-km loop. He was left feeling impressed with the punishment the car could take.

“The car is going well, with good grip, balance, power and braking. Everything feels incredible,” he said. “It has been fun. Different, no doubt, but interesting. The car takes a significant amount of abuse, more than I am used to having. But it was a lot of fun.”

Did You Know? The Hilux is the international version of the Toyota Tacoma

Driving in the Toyota Hilux seemed to open his eyes to a different type of motorsport than he was used to. “Everything is very different. The bumps are complicated to read, to judge their height and how fast you have to drive over them,” he said, adding that because the surface changed as you raced on it, you had to adapt every lap.

In my review of The Grand Tour’s recent segment on Jim Clark, I mentioned how the Brit eclipsed even Alonso in his proficiency in various different race series, but at the rate the Spaniard is currently trying new things to drive, that may not remain true for long.

Alonso took victory at the 24 Hours of Daytona earlier this year, the 24 Hours of Le Mans last year, and will make his second attempt at the Indianapolis 500 in May. Though Alonso has not been confirmed to be competing in the Dakar Rally, he is reportedly considering it, as the test demonstrates.

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