Fernando Alonso’s hopes of contending for a spot among the Dakar’s front-runners were dealt a major blow on Monday when the Spaniard was halted for over 2 hours after hitting a rock.
The rally-raid’s second stage in Saudi Arabia saw competitors run from Al Wajh to Neom, a 367 km route which was won by Alonso’s Toyota Gazoo Racing teammate Giniel de Villiers thanks to a faultless drive.
Participants were handed the day’s roadbook just minutes before the start of the stage which complicated the field’s navigation.
Onboard his Toyota Hilux with co-driver Marc Coma by his side, Alonso held his own among the fastest cars until the two-time F1 champion suddenly ground to a halt after 160 kilometers.
An impact with a rock had inflicted damage to the Toyota’s wheel and suspension, which Coma attempted to repair. But ultimately the pair was forced to wait for their assistance truck.
After 2 hours and 30 minutes, Alonso was on the move again, but the mishap was a major setback for the 38-year-old Dakar rookie.
Overall, X-raid Mini driver Orlando Terranova has taken control of the Dakar’s car category in the general standings, the Argentine driver followed by Carlos Sainz Sr., also onboard a Mini, and Toyota’s Nasser Al-Attiyah.
Tuesday’s third stage will feature a 427km loop around the mega city of Neom that will take competitors through canyons and mountains, to the border with Jordan and back.