Fernando Alonso will continue his preparations for his debut in the Dakar Rally next January by entering a local rally in Saudi Arabia this week.

Two-time Formula 1 world champion Alonso confirmed last month he would be entering the Dakar Rally with Toyota Gazoo Racing in 2020, having set his sights on the rally raid event following the conclusion of his LMP1 programme in June last year.

Alonso has entered a handful of rallies over the past few months to gain experienced ahead of his Dakar debut, and will continue his development at the Al Ula-Neom Cross-Country Rally in Saudi Arabia this week.

The 756 km rally will offer Alonso and co-driver Marc Coma a taste of the terrain and conditions to what they can expect in January, when the Dakar Rally will be held in Saudi Arabia for the first time.

“We are in Saudi Arabia to compete in a round of the national rally. This is the first time for me in Saudi Arabia and I’ve been discovering the country and the terrain which we expect to see at the Dakar Rally in January,” Alonso said.

“It’s great to have an opportunity to race in Saudi Arabia in our continued preparations. It’s an all-new experience for me but I’m looking forward to it.

“Marc and I have been out here testing before the rally as we have a brand-new car. We completed some shakedown mileage to make sure everything works because we will use the same car at the Dakar Rally, so it’s very important to make sure we are 100 percent ready.”

The rally will conclude on November 9 in the coastal city of Neom.