Fernando Alonso Completes Successful Training with TOYOTA GAZOO Racing
Having formally announced his intention to prepare for a possible entry in the 2020 Dakar Rally earlier this week, Fernando Alonso completed three days of intensive rally-raid training with TOYOTA GAZOO Racing in the Namibian desert. The reigning FIA World Endurance Championship title holder completed nearly 1,000 km of training in the 2019 Dakar-winning Toyota Hilux.
Fernando previously tested with TOYOTA GAZOO Racing in South Africa in March, after which he decided to expand his already-impressive racing resume by taking on the challenges of rally raid. Having spent his career to date on tarmac, the transition to gravel tracks and sandy dunes offered a stern test, but Fernando quickly adapted to the terrain.
He was mentored in Namibia by former Dakar Rally winner and TOYOTA GAZOO Racing teammate, Giniel de Villiers, who completed a test session at the same time.
While Fernando focussed on spending as much quality time in the Hilux as possible, Giniel was tasked with testing a variety of components for the 2020 edition of the car. The team completed a total distance of nearly 2,500 km over the three-day test, with more testing scheduled for later in the year.
Glyn Hall, Team Principal: “Fernando’s progress this week has been astounding. It is clear that he has a huge amount of talent, which he is putting to good use during this transition from tarmac to gravel and sand racing. It is important for him to get a feel for the car in the dunes, and especially to learn how to read and deal with the varied types of terrain. So far, he has taken to driving the Hilux with a sense of purpose, and we look forward to continuing his development at the next round of the South African Cross Country Series, which takes place in September.”
Fernando Alonso: “I’m very happy with my progress after this week’s test and starting to understand driving in the dunes a lot more and thanks to the tuition by Glyn and Giniel we made good progress. My mind-set right now is to approach the preparation as an adventure and try to improve step-by-step every time I jump in the car. As a racing driver, there’s always a competitive spirit inside of us which will come alive at the right time. With so much I still have to learn, working with an experienced team like TOYOTA GAZOO Racing is really a big weight off my shoulders. The team has a proven track record and they have been consistent over the years allowing me to focus on the milestones I need to reach every day.”
Giniel de Villiers: “Fernando is an extremely quick learner, and he is clearly a very talented driver. He quickly adapted to the Hilux, and if he continues to learn at this pace, I feel confident that he will be able to take on the rigours of the Dakar Rally. His professional approach to this project speaks to his discipline as a racer. I look forward to continuing on this journey with him.”
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