Realistic Debutante Alonso on Dakar's 'crazy' challenge

JEDDAH Saudi Arabia ): Twice Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso embarks on his first Dakar Rally Sunday decided to enjoy the adventure.

It's a little crazy for the first time to get off the asphalt, asphalt, go to the toughest race in the world, but I love the challenge, said the 38-year-old Spaniard.

The 2005 and 2006 F1 champion is one of 351 starters in the gruelling 7,500 kilometre marathon that has moved to Saudi Arabia from South America.

He is driving the Toyota Hilux used by Nasser Al-Attiyah to win last year's Dakar.

Qatari Al-Attiyah and 2009 winner Giniel de Villiers make up Toyota 's three-car assault on motorsport's' Everest'.

Despite the experience of five-time bicycle champion Marc Coma sailing, Alonso minimized his hopes of creating history by becoming the first F1 champion to raise the Dakar.

Toyota drivers are racing for the victory, for me it will be a little different, enjoy the adventure, he told a press conference on Friday.

We are very realistic about our hopes. We are taking it step by step. I am perfectly aware of my lack of experience and perfectly aware of my lack of pace.

Alonso hopes to reach the second week with a little more chance of being in the first places.

He is not the first F1 driver to take on the Dakar challenge. The Belgian Jacky Ickx, winner of eight great prizes and six times Le Mans winner, won Dakar in 1983 and was second in 1986 and 1989.

And Frenchman Patrick Tambay, who won two victories in his 114 Grand Prix, was third in 1988 and 1989.

The 42nd Dakar is launched in Jeddah on Sunday and concludes on January 17 in Qiddiya.