Dakar frontrunner Al-Attiyah has discussed potential test with Alonso

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Dakar Rally frontrunner Nasser Al-Attiyah says he has spoken with two-time Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso about the possibility of testing his Toyota Hilux in Qatar in February.

Alonso, who is currently preparing for a second Daytona 24 Hours attempt, suggested in a video with Spanish TV presenter and rally-raid competitor Jesus Calleja – who is also friends with Al-Attiyah – last month that he would like to test a Dakar-spec car.

Al-Attiyah and Calleja became friends in 2017, when the TV star helped Al-Attiyah during a Cross Country World Cup round.

Since then, the Qatari has assisted Calleja by covering a part of his budget for the 2017 Dakar Rally, and also befriended Alonso.

Al-Attiyah confirmed he has spoken with Alonso about making a test happen.

“Fernando is a very good friend of mine and we have talked [over] these weeks,” Al-Attiyah told Autosport.

“He told me that he wanted to test my car and I told him to let me finish Dakar and then we would talk to make it happen.

“We are talking between him, me and Jesus – who is another great friend.

“We are both Gazoo Racing drivers, but I still do not know if Toyota will want to get involved in the test.

“The idea is to do it before the Qatar Rally, or just after.”

The Qatar Rally, which was a round of the Cross Country World Cup but has fallen off the calendar for 2019, will take place from February 21-26.

Alonso would be free of his Wayne Taylor Racing Daytona commitments by that point, which would also fall before the March 13-15 World Endurance Championship round at Sebring that the Spaniard will contest with Toyota.

Gazoo Racing South Africa runs Toyota’s factory Dakar Rally effort, and told Autosport it had not been involved in any conversation with Alonso about a test.

Alonso has previously stated he is unlikely to contest the Dakar Rally, saying in September: “I need to consider and evaluate [several options] but there are things I need to be honest and know that I don’t have the talent to do.

“I need to be honest with myself, and need to know where my limits are, and I don’t have the talent to do that.”

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