Toyota's 2020 Dakar Rally Team Includes Fernando Alonso
It was inevitable, really, considering how he helped tested the Toyota Hilux the Japanese carmaker plans to enter at the 2020 Dakar Rally. But Toyota Gazoo Racing has finally made it official as it announced its lineup for the famed rally raid, which includes multi-awarded, multi-discipline driver Fernando Alonso.
For the 2020 edition of the race, Toyota Gazoo Racing will be running four crews consisting of last year's overall winner, Nasser Al-Attiyah and navigator Mathieu Baumel; Giniel de Villiers and navigator Alex Haro; Bernhard Ten Brinke and navigator Tom Colsoul; and Fernando Alonso and navigator Marc Coma.
Al-Attiyah and Baumel will be looking to defend their Dakar Rally title to add to their list of achievements, including multiple FIA World Cups for Cross Country Rallies and Dakar Rally victories. De Villiers is another experienced campaigner with the 2009 Dakar Rally victory to his name and four Rally of Morocco crowns, the latest coming earlier this month with his new navigator Haro. Ten Brinke, also a former winner in Morocco, is reunited with Colsoul, who has been competing across different rally disciplines over the years with multiple successes in the truck category.
As for Alonso, he looks to add to his already impressive list of motorsport disciplines. A two-time Formula 1 champion, two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner, 2019 24 Hours of Daytona winner, and reigning FIA World Endurance Championship titleholder, his rookie debut at the 2020 Dakar Rally is part of his ambition to try different motorsport disciplines and become an even more complete racing driver. Sitting alongside him in the navigator seat is Coma, a six-time FIM Cross Country Rallies Championship winner and five-time Dakar Rally winner in the bike category. So far, Alonso and Coma have more than doubled their planned training mileage, "an unmistakable signal of the duo's determination to conquer one of motorsport's most rigorous events."
All four crews will compete in the latest version of the rally raid-proven Toyota Hilux, built and developed in South Africa. The 2018 Dakar Rally saw the introduction of an all-new Hilux which was described by Team Principal Glyn Hall as a technological leap forward and proved itself with a second and third place on its Dakar Rally debut in 2018 before winning the event outright a year later.
Following Toyota Gazoo Racing's philosophy of "making ever-better cars," the team has continued to refine the Hilux and the latest iteration will spearhead the team's Dakar Rally campaign. The Hilux features independent suspensions, a mid-mounted engine, and all-wheel drive, with the 5.0-liter naturally aspirated V8 engine sitting just behind the front wheels.
The 2020 Dakar Rally will be contested solely in Saudi Arabia, with the rally starting on January 5, 2020, in Jeddah. The route will then head north, before turning southeast to the capital city of Riyadh where crews will enjoy the traditional event rest day. The second half of the 2020 Dakar Rally traverses through Rub' al Khali, also known as the "Empty Quarter," the world's largest contiguous sand desert, before finishing in the city of Al-Qiddiya on January 17.