Madrid - Fernando Alonso's Dakar Rally preparations are well under way, with the two-time Formula One champion having just completed 700km in two days of training in Poland.

Toyota says Alonso ran on a rally course that mixed hard and soft soil along with sand tracks and bumpy terrain.

Alonso said it was "definitely a positive couple of days" in which he could "experiment with a different sort of terrain." 

"It has been really fun to drive and I'm enjoying every test," he added.

“I welcome every kilometre in the Hilux and I’m happy we were able to push ourselves beyond the team’s original plans". 

Toyota said last month that Alonso would be undergoing an intense training program to "familiarise himself with the challenging rigors of rally raid."

Alonso completed a three-day desert test session in southern Africa in late August and he is expected to be back in action in South Africa on September 13 and 14, when he will be a non-competitive participant in the Lichtenburg 400.

His participation in the Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia still hasn't been officially confirmed. The 38-year-old Spaniard took a test drive in March in the Toyota Hilux truck that won the Dakar Rally this year.

Toyota team principal Glyn Hall said "we are focused on getting quality kilometers as Fernando continues to familiarise himself with the Hilux and rally raid, more so than pure mileage.

"Nevertheless, we were able to double the planned mileage for this test which demonstrates just how quickly Fernando is acclimatising to the Hilux. 

"Next week, we leave the relative comfort of a private test setting, to give Fernando a first taste of a rally raid competition environment at the Lichtenburg 400. We are grateful to the South African Cross Country Series for the special dispensation allowing Toyota Gazoo Racing to maximise this valuable opportunity in Fernando’s continuing training programme.”

AP & IOL