Alonso brands Dakar the biggest challenge of his career

Fernando Alonso

Fernando Alonso believes his debut in this year’s Dakar rally is the biggest challenge of his motorsport career.

The Spaniard will compete alongside co-driver Marc Coma in a Toyota Hilux in the event which takes place in Saudi Arabia starting tonight.

“The challenge is undoubtedly the biggest I have faced in my sporting career,” Alonso said.

“But taking on things that look impossible and trying to make them possible in six or seven months of preparation is a thrilling challenge.”

The gruelling Dakar event takes in 12 stages with a mixture of competition and liaison legs.

Teams are forced to rely on old fashioned navigation skills as they work their way across the inhospitable terrain, with modern navigation aids banned.

Though fiercely competitive, the two-time Formula 1 world champion is realistic about his chances, and is targeting little more than to finish.

“I am doing the Dakar to see what it’s like, but even more so to finish it,” Alonso reasoned.

“We know that only one in four people who start this event will get to the end – that’s tough. I know it will be very difficult.

“I don’t think there is anything more different to Formula 1 than the Dakar, but it’s an interesting challenge – certainly, impossible on paper, but I want to take it on and learn.

“And the preparation I have done the past few months has enriched me as a driver, which is one of my priorities when I confront these kinds of challenges: to be better at the end of each of them.

“I have to approach it with a certain calmness. I don’t want to go to the Dakar, then quit after the second or third day because of a stupid mistake.”

The event is set to begin in Jeddah this evening following the unveiling of competitors yesterday.

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