The Spanish Fernando Alonso, twice world champion of Formula One, took the podium for the first time in a rally competition after finishing third with his Toyota Hilux, along with his co-driver Marc Conma, in the Ula-Neom rally, which ended this Saturday in Saudi Arabia with the victory of the Saudi Razeed Al Rajhi, who was also driving a Toyota.
Alonso repeated in the last stage the third place of the previous one and finished the competition in that same position, at 16:20 minutes from the winner, Al Rajhi, who in the last stage snatched the title from fellow countryman Yasin Bin Seaidan (Mini), leader of the Rally in the previous days, despite suffering three punctures.
The third final place in this raid reinforces the expectations of Fernando Alonso and Marc Coma, who will arrive at the Dakar 2020 in Arabia with the experience of having successfully competed in the Saudi desert.
"It has been a good four-day preparation for the Dakar, discovering new terrain and new things here. Being third in the last two stages and third also in general is the first podium of my life in rallies. It is good that it has happened now because it gives us confidence for the Dakar, "Alonso said in a statement from the organization.
The last stage was played on a sandy route of 175 kilometers in which Alonso and Coma arrived at 5:31 of the cattler, who was driving a car like his. A small navigation error in the last section moved the Spanish couple from Al Rajhi after having maintained a similar pace during much of the stage.
"First podium in Rally !!!. Thanks to these guys", Fernando Alonso celebrated his third place on Twitter.
The Ula Neom Rally was held between November 6 and 9 on a route of more than 800 kilometers in the Arabian desert and served as a prelude to the Dakar 2020, which takes place next January and in which Fernando Alonso will participate for first time.
Before taking the exit in the Dakar, Alonso will carry out three days of testing with the Toyota Hilux in December, probably in Abu Dhabi, to accumulate experience in the dunes.