Fernando Alonso has downplayed his chances of winning the Dakar Rally at the first attempt, saying he is treating it as an “enriching experience”.

Two-time Formula 1 world champion Alonso will make his Dakar Rally debut this month with Toyota Gazoo Racing, with the 12-day rally starting in Saudi Arabia on Sunday.

Alonso will be part of a four-car entry for Toyota following an intensive testing programme over the past six months. Alonso will be driving alongside veteran co-driver Marc Coma, a five-time Dakar winner in the motorbike class.

Speaking to Spanish outlet RTVE, Alonso stressed that he was not giving any thoughts to victory on debut, citing nine-time world rally champion Sebastien Loeb’s failure to win Dakar as proof of its difficulty.

“If Loeb still hasn't won the Dakar, imagine me, who is coming from asphalt," Alonso said.

"I think the goal is more to approach the rally as an enriching experience for us.”

Alonso’s entry to the Dakar Rally comes as part of his bid to become one of the most well-rounded and successful drivers in motorsport, having taken part in the Indianapolis 500 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans over the past three years.

Alonso made his Indy 500 debut in 2017 with McLaren Andretti Honda, retiring from the race due to an engine failure, and failed to qualify last year amid struggles for McLaren’s new in-house entry.

The Spaniard managed to score victory at Le Mans in both 2018 and 2019, leaving the Indy 500 as the only part missing of the ‘triple crown of motorsport’ – a feat only managed before by Graham Hill.

Besides Dakar, Alonso is yet to confirm any racing plans for 2020, but has hinted he would be open to returning to F1 for 2021 should a suitable opportunity arise.

The 2020 Dakar Rally starts on Sunday January 5.

 

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