MADRID – Spanish racing driver Fernando Alonso, two-time Formula 1 world champion and the FIA World Endurance Championship title-holder, said Monday that his upcoming participation in the Dakar Rally is “a one-off attempt” and did not consider it to be part of his plans for the future.
“I see it as a one-off attempt only. An attempt to do Dakar once in my life, to go through that experience, to grow as a driver,” Alonso told Efe at an event in Madrid.
The Spaniard, 38, explained that the upcoming experience at Dakar will not be a debut for a long Cross-Country rallying career.
“It’s not my specialty and it’s never been my life, I do not consider it as a future (of mine),” Alonso added.
For the Rallye du Maroc – the only round of the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies held in the African continent on 3-9 October – Alonso has teamed up with countryman Marc Coma, 43, who has won five Dakar titles on a motorbike.
The pair will compete in a Toyota Gazoo Racing car for, a first for both Spaniards and Alonso said it was an important and fundamental test to get to become familiar with rallying and to prepare for Dakar.
Alonso said that Coma was helping him a lot thanks to his vast experience in cross country rallying.
The Asturias-born driver added that having Coma as co-pilot was a new experience for both of them, but it was very helpful as it is the first time Alonso will participate in a rally.
He also discussed that the upcoming Dakar Rally will be held in Saudi Arabia for the first time, which he considered beneficial for him.
“To the extent that it’d be new to everyone cannot be bad for me, as I have no experience,” Alonso said.
“But if it had been in South America or in another place where they already had experienced the territory, it’d have been a small disadvantage for me, so now we all start from scratch and it can’t be bad.
“Initially, the objective is to finish it. I’m aware that it’s the toughest rally on the planet.
“There is a 60% desertion rate (at Dakar); for every ten cars only four will reach the finish line, and being one of those four would already make me consider myself lucky.
“That’s the goal, but inside me, there is always a competitive driver and you always think about doing your best.
Alonso, who quit his F1 career by the end of the 2018 season as a McLaren driver, also said that he would only return to the F1 championship which he won twice in 2005 and 2006 with Renault if regulatory changes were made.
“I’m not thinking of Formula 1 right now.
“2021 (season) would be the only possible option there, since regulations will change and rules will be shuffled and, in that year, which is still a year and a half away, I will think about it.”
The racer added that he was not toying with a F1 return for the moment and that his focus was chasing his dream to win an Indianapolis 500-Mile Race title which would make him the first Spaniard to claim the Triple Crown of Motorsport.
“But I have a year and a half ahead in which I don’t want to think much beyond Dakar or the Indy.”
“Indianapolis itself is more of a personal or long-term challenge.
“If it’d not be this year, it’d be the next or the following.
“It’s the only race that I need for the Triple Crown.
“It’d be a historic fact, and in this 2020 it’ll be one of the main objectives or things that I’ve in mind for the next year.”
Alonso also discussed the current situation of unrest in Catalonia saying that Spain is “without a doubt, the best country in the world,” and the people should consider that the country’s diversity was the main reason it was a great nation.