Rally

Two-time F1 champion Alonso yet to decide on Dakar Rally return

Two-time Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso says he has yet to decide if he will return to the Dakar Rally, after finishing 13th on his debut in 2020.

Since exiting F1, Alonso has sampled various categories of motorsport and has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans twice, as well as the World Endurance Championship crown, and has ambitions of winning the Indianapolis 500 to complete the triple crown of motorsport.

On his Dakar debut, Alonso posted a best stage finish of runner-up in a Toyota Gazoo-run Hilux. Though a stop for repairs on the second stage and a roll on the 10th stage cost him several hours in the general classification, Alonso was buoyed by his competitiveness.

But Alonso is currently unsure if he will return to the Dakar.

“If I decide to enter the Dakar again, it would be with high expectations,” Alonso said. “I don’t want to think about it now. I’m happy with how it went.

“Logically, after this first experience, and having been competitive, if I race in the future, I’ll try to do it to win, to add an important victory to my career.

“But there’s time for that [decision]. I would have to have a more precise and detailed preparation and have the best equipment.

“If you like racing, spending holidays in a car is a good option. We’ll see.”

While he came up short of taking a maiden stage win, Alonso felt he had come close – particularly in the final test.

“I have felt competitive almost every day. On this last stage, we had a puncture, we caught Yazeed [Al Rajhi] and we still finished fourth [on the day], so I think we would have been in with a shot at winning the stage [otherwise].”

Alonso’s three-time Dakar champion team-mate Nasser Al-Attiyah suggested the ex-F1 driver has proved a fast learner.

He added that Alonso has looked competitive enough to return with loftier ambitions in the future, but played down the prospect of Alonso winning the Dakar on his second attempt.

“Look, we need to respect the race,” Al-Attiyah said. “When I came [to the Dakar], I had a lot of experience. After six, seven years, I win.

“Carlos [Sainz], he is a great driver in WRC. he came, he stayed seven, eight years.

“Sebastien Loeb, he came. He is one of the best drivers, he couldn’t win.

“It takes time. We need to respect this race, because this race is really not easy.”

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