VETERAN F1 driver Fernando Alonso has exceeded ‘all kinds of personal goals’ in his debut at the famous Dakar Rally as he claimed a second position on stage eight.
Driving a highly modified Toyota for the Gazoo Racing Team, Alonso finished stage eight just four minutes behind stage winner Mathieu Serradori.
His spectacular result in the latest stage puts him 13th in the overall standings and within four minutes of a top ten finish.
Dakar specialists and regular front runners Carlos Sainz, Nasser Al-Attiyah and Stephane Peterhansel had a difficult stage eight.
As the first to leave the start gate, they didn’t have the usual bike tracks to guide the route along the 477km stage.
The motorcycle category was cancelled yesterday after the tragic passing of Portuguese rider Paulo Goncalves on Sunday.
Teaming up with Dakar legend and fellow Spaniard Marc Coma, Alonso said: “I’ve not just fulfilled but exceeded all kinds of personal goals I may have had before the Dakar,”
“For us in the team, for Marc and me in the car, these are moments of great joy, of emotion, because we know how difficult it is, what we experienced there over 470 kilometres – the dunes we passed, the scares – and then when you cross the finish line and you are among the best, it is a great joy.”
The race continues today with the 476km stage nine from Wadi Al Dawasir to Haradh where Alonso hopes to carry on his momentum to break into the top ten.