Two-time former FIA Formula One World Champion Fernando Alonso will take part in next weekend’s new Al Ula–Neom Cross-Country Rally, the third round of the exciting new Saudi Toyota Desert Rally Championship.
Organised by the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation (SAMF), under the chairmanship of H.R.H. Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al-Faisal and supervision of former FIA Middle East champion Abdullah Bakhashab, the event takes place on November 5th-9th.
Alonso has recently joined the Toyota Gazoo Racing team and was announced as a member of the Japanese manufacturer’s team to take part in the 2020 Dakar at a press conference held in Salou in conjunction with the WRC rally in Spain last week.
The Spaniard has already taken part in the Rally of Morocco, the final round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, and finished 27th after overcoming delays with a front axle breakage and a series of punctures. He also tested his Toyota Hilux at a small off-road event in South Africa and has undertaken further testing programmes in Morocco, Qatar and Poland.
Toyota Gazoo Racing sees the second round of the Saudi Toyota Desert Rally Championship as an excellent training ground for Alonso over terrain similar to that he will face when the Dakar crosses the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the first time in January.
Marc Coma is a five-time former winner of the Dakar Rally as a member of the KTM factory motorcycle team and switched from a recent organisational role within the Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO) to join Alonso as his co-driver.
Reading notes, maps and navigating is a totally different proposition for Coma as well and is a far cry from his role as a Sporting Director of the Dakar Rally when it ran across parts of South America.
Speaking at the recent press reception in Salou, he is relishing the new challenge of trying to guide Alonso to the finish of the Dakar Rally for the first time and sees pre-event preparations as crucial to giving the F1 star additional time behind the wheel in a competitive environment.
The Al Ula-Neom Cross-Country Rally will take place over five competitive sections and runs with the support of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation, the General Sport Authority, Abdul Latif Jameel Motors (Toyota), the MBC Group and Al-Arabia outdoors.