Winning the Dakar Rally is just as high a priority as a third Formula 1 world championship to Fernando Alonso.
Alonso, who is currently third in this year’s F1 standings with Aston Martin, has famously not won an F1 title since 2006 when he left Renault to join McLaren.
A series of ill-timed career moves and near-misses, particularly with Ferrari, means his trophy haul doesn’t quite reflect his talent level.
Although Alonso is still competing in F1 he did take a two-year break in 2019-20 to explore other motorsport activities, and he managed to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans twice with Toyota and claim the World Endurance Championship title.
But in 2020, Alonso also took on the world’s most famous rally-raid in a Toyota Hilux and impressed, despite finishing down in 13th place – his event undone by two separate crashes but peaking with a second-fastest time.
Returning to F1 with Alpine in 2021, Alonso hasn’t been able to give the Dakar another crack since.
But talking on a recent episode of The High Performance Podcast, the 42-year-old revealed the Dakar is still very much in his plans.
“I will try 99% Dakar again,” Alonso said.
“It’s not that the third [F1] world title is less of a priority, it is a priority, but winning Dakar for me it is a high priority as well.
“I will maybe have to attempt that race [for] eight, 10 years whatever until maybe one day I get lucky and I can fight for the win, but if I win in Formula 1, in endurance racing and in Dakar, that will feel for me something special, as a driver and as a person.
“Those kind of challenges are in my head at the moment.”
If Alonso did win the Dakar, he would not be the first F1 driver to do so as Jacky Ickx won the event back in 1983 driving a Mercedes 280 GE.
But he would become the first F1 world champion to conquer the rally.
Cross-border event joins 2024 W2RC calendar
Announced during the penultimate round of the season in Argentina, the 2024 World Rally-Raid Championship calendar will feature a new-look cross-border Iberian event, with stages run in Portugal and Spain.
Replacing the Sonora Rally in México, the Rally-Raid Transibérico will host the third round of the season, taking place between April 2-7.
A former round of the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies, the Transibérico is renowned for its narrow and demanding rural tracks and will be the only European event on the 2024 schedule.
Motor Sports Director for the Amaury Sport Organisation, which organizes the W2RC and the Dakar Rally, David Castera said: “Season three of the W2RC is already starting to take shape on the January 2024 horizon. The constant growth of the field this year shows just how successful this format has become.
“Mirroring its inaugural campaign, the W2RC will head to Europe, this time for the BP Ultimate Rally-Raid Transibérico, a geographically closer and less expensive gateway to the sport for competitors, teams and fans from this continent, which remains the leading incubator of rally raids.
“This new event will make an impact in more ways than one because it runs through Portugal and Spain, two countries that stand out for their motorsports know-how and tradition. This time more than ever, the calendar will be a hit with rookies and veterans alike.”
The rest of the calendar remains unchanged, with the Dakar Rally kicking things off in January (5-19) before staying in the Middle East for the Abu Dhabi Challenge. After the Transibérico, the Desafio Ruta 40 in Argentina will take place in early August, with the season concluding on the Rallye du Maroc between November 5-11.