sampled Toyota's Hilux car in the Kalahari Desert back in March, and will now embark on a much more extensive rally raid training programme with the Gazoo South Africa operation that represents Toyota at the Dakar.
This will be with the aim of having Alonso debut in the legendary rally-raid in 2020, although it's understood the Spaniard retains the option of backing out in case he does not end up feeling sufficiently comfortable or prepared in time for January's event.
"In March this year, we completed a successful two-day evaluation with Fernando in our Dakar-winning Toyota Hilux in Southern Africa, which proved to be a valuable learning experience," Gazoo SA team boss Glyn Hall said.
"Not only did Fernando thoroughly enjoy the experience, but we could see him adapt and improve every time he got behind the wheel. It was clear that Fernando came to the test prepared and was ready to absorb everything we showed him.
"Rally raid is new for Fernando and I’m certain he has the skill and spirit to take on this challenge. As reigning Dakar champions with a long history in rally raid, I’m confident we can work well together with Fernando to build up his confidence for rally raid competition over the next few months."
301# Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota Hilux: Fernando Alonso, Giniel de Villiers