Toyota Gazoo Racing has announced that it will once again join forceds with Fernando Alonso, with the Spaniard taking part in a series of tests ahead of next year's Dakar Rally.
Alonso raced with Toyota in the 2018/19 World Endurance Championship, winning the series in the #8 car and emerging victorious in the two 24 Hours of Le Mans races that were he during the year.
The Toyota Hilux will be used for the Dakar test, and sees Alonso behind the wheel of it in the deserts of southern Africa from August 20th to 23rd.
At the 2019 Harrismith 400 in South Africa on September 13th and 14th, Alonso will be a non-competitive entry as part of his test programme.
Alonso drove the Hilux earlier this year in March, taking part in a two-day event with Dakar Rally winner Giniel de Villiers advising him.
“I’m really excited to continue my adventure with Toyota Gazoo Racing," Alonso said. "Together we have achieved so much since I first drove a Toyota in November 2017, with our two consecutive wins at Le Mans, the World Endurance Championship for the team and a drivers’ title with my teammates Sébastien and Kazuki.
"I got a taste of off-road rallying earlier this year and it left me with a good feeling that I want to prolong. I knew it would be a totally different experience with a steep learning curve but the Hilux just felt great; it gave me so much confidence so quickly and I was improving loop after loop.
"I’m really looking forward to the next few months of training, getting to know the Hilux and working with the team. I’ve always maintained I want to pursue new challenges in different disciplines and I’m at a great team to do that.”
Glyn Hall, team principal, added: “In March this year, we completed a successful two-day evaluation with Fernando in our Dakar-winning Toyota Hilux in southern Africa which proved to be a valuable learning experience.
"Not only did Fernando thoroughly enjoy the experience, but we could see him adapt and improve every time he got behind the wheel. It was clear that Fernando came to the test prepared and was ready to absorb everything we showed him.
"Rally raid is new for Fernando and I’m certain he has the skill and spirit to take on this challenge. As reigning Dakar champions with a long history in rally raid, I’m confident we can work well together with Fernando to build up his confidence for rally raid competition over the next few months.”