Alonso: Everything feels incredible in Dakar Toyota

Double Formula 1 champion Fernando Alonso has taken a test drive in the Toyota Hilux truck that won the Dakar Rally this year.

The Spanish driver was in South Africa for the two-test along with former Dakar Rally champion Giniel de Villiers. Toyota won this year’s race with three-time winner Nasser Al-Attiyah.

Alonso says the session in the Kalahari desert “was definitely fun, different,” and added it was interesting to see how much beating the vehicle could take while going over rocks and bumps.

“I have tried different series and different cars over the past two years and it is an opportunity to try something very different to what I am used to driving,” Alonso reported after the test.

“It has been fun. Different, no doubt, but interesting. The car takes a significant amount of abuse, more than I am used to having. But it was a lot of fun.”

“Everything is very different. The bumps are complicated to read, to judge their height and how fast you have to drive over them. The car is going well, with good grip, balance, power and braking. Everything feels incredible.”

“It’s still the first few minutes in the car, but I feel comfortable, more than I probably thought, despite the heat inside.”

Toyota team manager Glyn Hall said of the Spaniard’s foray, “You do not have a double F1 world champion usually in your car on a stage like this. There has been a lot of stress on our part because we wanted everything to go perfect and it’s a very special day.”

“We are in the Kalahari desert and it is not the place where you would expect to see an F1 champion in a normal way. It’s great that Fernando came here with us to try the Hilux.”

“It is the best way to try something so different for him and so new. It’s a matter of getting used to the terrain, reading the jumps, the dunes, everything you’re not used to,” added Hall.

Alonso retired from F1 last season and is reportedly considering racing in the Dakar Rally. Earlier this year he was part of the winning team at the Daytona 24-Hours with Wayne Taylor Racing, and has been competing in the WEC with Toyota Gazoo Racing.

He will be back for a second stab at the Indy 500 this year with McLaren.

Alonso said Wednesday on Twitter: “Great to experience different cars and approach to racing in Motorsport.”