Double Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso has hit trouble early on during his Dakar Rally debut after picking up damage to his car.

The Spaniard and Toyota co-driver Marc Coma came to a stop around 100 miles into the second stage of the Saudi Arabia-based rally, which takes place between Al Wajh to Neom.

Alonso’s Toyota Hilux suffered significant damage to one of its wheels and suspension after hitting a yet-to-be-determined object. The pair subsequently got out of their car to carry out repair work, which has set them back over two and a half hours.

Alonso and Coma are attempting to fix the damage with the spare parts they are carrying inside their car, rather than waiting for the assistance truck, which would cost them even more time.

It acts as the first major setback to Alonso’s hopes of becoming the first F1 world champion to win the Dakar Rally.

The 38-year-old finished 11th on the opening stage of the event on Sunday, completing the near 200-mile route from Jeddah to Al Wajh over 15 minutes down on surprise winner Vaidotas Zala.

Zala led home a Mini 1-2-3 on the first stage, two minutes and 14 seconds clear of teammates Stephane Peterhansel and Carlos Sainz Sr, father of McLaren F1 driver Carlos Sainz Jr.

Alonso finished behind the leading Toyota of defending champion Nasser Al-Attiyah in his first ever rally stage but did outpace fellow teammate Giniel de Villiers.

Alonso and Coma had set the third fastest time at the first reference point of the second stage and were fourth at the second prior to the incident. 

 

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