DAKAR RALLY

ALONSO ON MAIDEN DAKAR RALLY RAID PODIUM

Fernando Alonso scored his maiden rally raid podium in Saudi Arabia on Sunday as he continued his preparations for January’s Dakar Rally.

Two-time Formula 1 world champion Alonso entered the five-day Al Ula-Neom Cross-Country Rally with Toyota in Saudi Arabia, giving him and co-driver Marc Coma a first run-out in conditions similar to what they can expect at the Dakar.

Alonso and Coma took third on the final two days of the rally to rise up to P3 in the final overall standings, benefitting from an overnight penalty for Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi of Abu Dhabi Racing.

The rally was won by Yazeed Al-Rajhi and Konstantin Zhiltsov, who passed Yasir Seaidan and François Cazalet on the final day.

“It was a good four days preparation for the Dakar and discovering new terrain and new things here,” Alonso said, as quoted by Saudi Gazette.

“To be third in the final two stages and to be third in the overall is the first podium of my life in rally. It is good that it happened now and gives us confidence for Dakar.”

Alonso will enter the Dakar Rally on January 5 as part of a four-car entry from Toyota Gazoo Racing, and currently marks the Spaniard’s only confirmed racing commitments for 2020 thus far.

Alonso is expected to pursue another entry to the Indianapolis 500 as part of his bid to complete the ‘triple crown of motorsport’, but is yet to firm up any plans.

His existing contract with McLaren runs out at the end of this year, with the team set to open talks over any future partnership in the near future.