Brian Joss – Fernando Alonso completed a successful two-day training in the Toyota Hilux on September 2-3 in Szczecin, Poland covering 700 kilometres, including sections used by the recently-concluded Baja Poland.
The training course featured a variety of sand tracks, hard and soft soil, and bumpy terrain developed by rally raid specialists and the team’s logistics partner, Overdrive Racing.
Fernando will head to South Africa for a non-competitive outing in the Lichtenburg 400, fifth round of the South African Cross Country Series, on September 13-14. Originally scheduled to take place near Harrismith, the event moved to its new location due to unseasonably dry conditions which posed a fire risk.
Glyn Hall, Team Principal, said, that, “This was the first test for Fernando in Europe with the Hilux driving on very different terrains and conditions compared to Namibia two weeks ago. As we progress through our intensive training programme, we are focused on getting quality kilometres as Fernando continues to familiarise himself with the Hilux and rally raid, more so than pure mileage. Nevertheless, we were able to double the planned mileage for this test which demonstrates just how quickly Fernando is acclimatising to the Hilux, which he will drive in the Dakar. Next week, we leave the relative comfort of a private test setting, to give Fernando a first taste of a rally raid competition environment at the Lichtenburg 400.
We are grateful to the South African Cross Country Series for the special dispensation allowing us to maximise this valuable opportunity in Fernando’s continuing training programme.”
Alonso said, “It was definitely a positive couple of days here in Poland where I could experiment with a different sort of terrain. At this stage of my training, I welcome every kilometre in the Hilux and I’m happy we were able to push ourselves beyond the team’s original plans. It’s really great to be part of the Toyota Gazoo Racing family and be given opportunities to try my hands at different types of motorsport. The Hilux has been really fun to drive and I’m enjoying every test.”
CAPTION: First test in Europe: Fernando Alonso. Picture: Motorpress