Alonso suffers 'many firsts' in debut rally-raid race at Lichtenburg 400

<i> Image: Wheels24 / Sean Parker </i>
<i> Image: Wheels24 / Sean Parker </i>

Fernando Alonso's first race in the Toyota Gazoo Racing Hilux was full of incidents over the weekend in Lichtenburg, North West, close to three hours outside of Johannesburg.

Toyota used the Lichtenburg 400 race, inclusive of the South African Cross Country championship calendar, as part of the double Formula 1 champion's evaluation program for a possible drive at the 2020 Dakar Rally. 

After qualifying third fastest in the FIA class, the Spaniard and co-driver Marc Coma, who has won five Dakar titles on the bike, rolled the Hilux 27km into the first race loop on Saturday. 


The Hilux's windscreen was shattered, and with the help of spectators the car was pushed onto four wheels, and the windscreen was kicked out to improve visibility. Alonso and Coma put on motocross goggles to prevent the dust from making the route virtually impossible to see.  

They lost a significant amount of time before returning to the DSP. Race control allowed Alonso and Coma to head out 15 minutes before the rest of the field on the second loop as they were a non-competitive vehicle. 

However, the new windscreen met a similar fate as the old one when the duo struck a guinea fowl with 10km of the 200km loop to go. They completed the race and were classified in 16th place.

Alonso tweeted that they endured many firsts during the race: 

Alonso and Coma's next test will be at the Rally of Morocco between 3 and 9 October. 

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