Formula 1 retiree Fernando Alonso said he enjoyed devouring desert tracks in Saudi Arabia in his Dakar Rally 2020 debut.
The two-time F1 world champion enjoyed his best results as a rookie rally when he finished runner-up in stage VIII using a Toyota Hilux car accompanied by motorcycle category winner Marc Coma as co-driver.
The Spaniard clocked three hours 52 minutes 27 seconds to complete the Special Stage of stage VIII for 477km around the southern route around Wadi Al Dawasir, four minutes and four seconds ahead of stage champion Mathieu Serradori, according to the official Dakar website.
"I'm glad I was able to finish this stage without any problems. It's a beautiful stage, quite fast with lots of sand mountains, so that's good," said Alonso.
"I thought the dunes were more difficult than the track, but somehow I felt more comfortable. I come from an area that doesn't have sand mountains, but I think I can get a good rhythm and flow in the dunes and I really enjoyed this second week of Dakar "
After retiring from F1 at the end of 2018, Alonso turned the wheel and adapted quickly to his new world as he did before when he won the 24-hour Le Mans race.
In the Dakar, which entered its first edition to be held in the Middle East after a decade in South America and left Africa for safety reasons, Alonso suffered severe damage in Stage II when he suffered tire damage and finished 63rd after losing a lot of time.
Today's runner-up finish is his best result following consistent results in the previous three stages, thus lifting him to 13th in the standings despite being three hours 10 minutes 51 seconds behind Carlos Sainz who has not been shaken at the top.
The racers will continue to race on stage IX of the Dakar Rally which starts from Wadi Al Dawasir to Haradh with a total distance of 886 km and the SS as far as 410 km.