BARCELONA, SPAIN - Two-times Formula One champion Fernando Alonso will enter next January's Dakar Rally with Toyota, in a South-African built Hilux, the company confirmed on Thursday.

Alonso will be navigated by Marc Coma, and his Toyota Gazoo Racing team-mates will include South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers, paired with navigator Alex Haro, as well as Nasser Al-Attiyah (with Mathieu Baumel) and Bernard Ten Brinke (with Tom Colsoul).

The move has been an open secret, with Alonso entering rallies in South Africa and Morocco as preparation with fellow Spaniard and former Dakar motorcycle winner Marc Coma as co-driver.

Alonso and his team-mates will be driving a refined version of the Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa Hilux, which features a normally aspirated 5-litre V8 engine, mounted behind the front wheels, and fully independent suspension. 

The Toyota team has been competing at the Dakar Rally since 2012, and achieved its first overall victory in January 2019 with Al-Attiyah at the wheel.

Move to Saudi Arabia

The Dakar Rally has come a long way since its origins as a race from Paris to Senegal, with the 2020 edition taking place in Saudi Arabia for the first time after moving from South America.

Alonso's entry was announced ahead of this weekend's Spanish round of the rally world championship.

The Spaniard is also seeking to win the Indianapolis 500 to complete the so-called Triple Crown of Motorsport, after winning the other two parts at Le Mans and in Formula One.

The 38-year-old hung up his helmet as a McLaren Formula One driver last year.

IOL & Reuters