Fernando Alonso secured his first rally-raid podium in Saudi Arabia as the Spaniard continues his preparations for next year’s Dakar.

On Saturday, Alonso and teammate Marc Coma brought their Toyota Helix home third overall in the four-day Al Ula-Neom rally-raid, round three of the Saudi Toyota Desert Rally Championship.

The rally-raid was won by Yazeed Al-Rajhi and Konstantin Zhiltsov, also onboard a Toyota Helix, but Alonso rounded off his performance in the event with a succession of P3 placings in the rally’s final two stages.

“It was a good four days preparation for the Dakar and discovering new terrain and new things here,” commented the two-time F1 world champion.

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

Next year’s grueling Dakar rally, which will take place in Saudi Arabia from January 5-17, will see Toyota enter a four-car strong works team that will include in addition to Alonso defending champion Nasser Al-Attiyah, Giniel de Villiers and Bernhard ten Brinke.

Alonso, who remains contracted to McLaren as a brand ambassador, has yet to fill up his 2020 agenda.

The Spaniard is reportedly in talks with Andretti Autosport for a potential return to Indianapolis in May, while Arrow McLaren SP has also expressed in interest in running the 38-year-old at the Brickyard.

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