"It was a lot of fun." With these words Fernando Alonso summed up his first contact with a cross country vehicle: the Toyota Hilux that led the Qatari to victory Nasser Al-Attiyah in the last edition of Dakar Rally. The Spaniard, a Toyota driver in the World Endurance, spent two days experiencing the specific demands of an all-round vehicle during an exclusive test in the desert of Kalahari.
Toyota GAZOO Racing South Africa organized the test for Fernando to drive for the first time a machine with characteristics very different from those he is used to. The two-time Formula 1 champion was advised by the South African Giniel De Villiers, winner of the Dakar in 2009.
The Toyota Hilux that won the Dakar is powered by a 8-liter V5 engine that delivers 385 hp and produces 620Nm of torque. Fernando tested it in two sections of the desert, one of 8 km and the other of 17 km.
“I have tested in different categories and with different cars in recent years and this was without a doubt a great opportunity. It has been a lot of fun. It was different from what I'm used to driving, but very interesting ”, Alonso pointed out.
“We picked up speed slowly, learning lap after lap. It is not easy to read the potholes and know how much speed to go, but I feel more and more confident. The Hilux feels great; it has good grip and balance, lots of power and impressive braking. It felt amazing to drive this car"He added.
Glyn HallToyota GAZOO Racing South Africa Team Principal was also satisfied with the tests: “It has been a fantastic experience for the team to work with a rider of the magnitude of Fernando. It is easy to see why he has been so successful in his career; he was very well prepared for this test and he made a great effort to learn as much as possible these days ”.
The team-manager pointed out that, “Rally is a totally different discipline compared to circuit racing, but Fernando made impressive progress and it seems like he had a lot of fun in the process. I am proud that he chose to test drive a Toyota Hilux in South Africa and I hope it was a worthwhile experience for him. "
This test opens the doors to the possible participation of Alonso in the 2020 edition of the Dakar, although at the moment the pilot did not comment on the matter.
THE TESTS OF FERNANDO ALONSO IN PHOTOS