Two-time Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso spent two days in the Kalahari Desert last week learning to drive a Toyota Gazoo Hilux bakkie over harsh terrain and dunes in the Upington area.
He was mentored by regular Toyota racer and former Dakar Rally winner, Giniel de Villiers. Alonso, De Villiers and Gazoo Racing South Africa team principal Glyn Hall were all delighted with the test. Alonso said he had followed this year’s Dakar Rally and was keen to experience driving a top notch off road racing car.
Being associated with Gazoo Racing, for whom he currently leads this year’s World Sports Car Endurance Championship, his wish could be accommodated.
Fernando drove the bakkie on two layouts around the desert, one of 8km and the other of 17km. Afterwards he said it was a great experience and a steep learning curve. Glyn Hall praised Alonso’s professionalism, saying it was a great experience to work with a driver of his calibre.
All of which again ignited rumpurs that Alonso might join the Gazoo Hilux team in next year’s Dakar Rally. Since leaving Formula One, Alonso has spread his wings wide, winning Le Mans with Toyota, and aiming to win the Indianapolis 500 race in America. He might well have the Dakar Rally on his bucket list too.