Alonso's Dakar Rally doubts quashed
Fernando Alonso's doubts heading into his Dakar Rally debut have been quashed and the Spaniard is delighted with his display.
The Spaniard, a two-time Formula One champion and 24 Hours of Le Mans winner, placed 11th in the first stage but fell two and a half hours off the pace following a crash on day two.
Alonso, who is set to have a third attempt at completing motorsport's 'Triple Crown' at the Indy 500, was proud of his performances, in particular crossing the line just four minutes slower than fellow Toyota Gazoo Racing driver and three-time Dakar champion Nasser Al-Attiyah on Friday.
"When I arrived in Jeddah, I knew that I was facing a tough test, a giant challenge and I did not know very well how I'd perform in 500-kilometre stages," Alonso told reporters during the rest day on Saturday.
"I did not know if I was going to lose 40 minutes, one hour ... and when stages like [Friday] arrive, that I am four minutes from Nasser, it is absolutely incredible for me.
"It's removed doubts about how competitive I could be in a different specialty and I am very, very happy."
Alonso and co-driver Marc Coma sit 16th in the general classification, just 40 minutes away from the place in the top 10.
"I do not care much about the general classification, but I would be excited to be in the top 10 and I think it would be deserved seeing the times of the last stages, but I'm not obsessed about it," said Alonso.
"I am looking forward to the second week and seeing what happens. The top three have an unattainable pace and it is difficult to get into that fight every stage.
"Hopefully we can be in the top five in the majority of stages."