Alonso scores first Cross Country Rally podium in Dakar warm-up event

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Fernando Alonso has scored a podium at the Rally Ula Neom in Saudi Arabia as preparations for the 2020 Dakar continue.

In just his third Cross Country Rally, the Spaniard finished almost 20 minutes behind overall winner Yazeed Al-Rajhi in the Toyota Hilux.

After competing in South Africa and Morocco in recent months, this event was the most important yet for the two-time Formula 1 champion on stages very similar to those he'll be tackling when the Dakar takes place in Saudi in January.

And for Alonso, the additional experience mattered much more than the result itself.

“It was a good four days preparing for the Dakar and discovering new terrain and new things here," he said.


"To be third in the final two stages and to be third in the overall is the first podium of my life in a rally. It is good that it happened now and gives us confidence for Dakar.”

The opportunity to race alongside Alonso was also not lot on his fellow competitors, with second-placed Yasir Seaidan commenting: 

"It was nice to see Fernando here practising over the terrain. It was a nice experience to have a World Champion with us, for him and for us.”

At this point, it is unknown if Alonso has any more competitive rallying planned before the Dakar itself in January, although plenty more testing is expected.