Rossi targeting Dakar program

Image by Cantrell/LAT

Rossi targeting Dakar program

IndyCar

Rossi targeting Dakar program

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Alexander Rossi plans on competing at the Dakar Rally in the coming years after being unable to take advantage of an opportunity to do so at the 2020 event.

The Andretti Autosport driver has been busy since the end of the 2019 IndyCar season, racing a Supercar at Bathurst and competing in the Baja 1000 for the second time before suiting up for Acura Team Penske for another appearance at this weekend’s Rolex 24. Fernando Alonso attempted the Dakar for the first time this year, and Rossi told RACER that he came close to joining the Spaniard in the desert.

“I pay attention now (to Alonso) because it’s funny, we’re kind of doing the same things,” Rossi said. “I paid very close attention to what he did at Dakar. I was actually asked to do it at one point, but it didn’t work out timing-wise for this year. But I will do it in the next three to four years, I think.”

Rossi admitted that he didn’t want to see Alonso win the Dakar on his debut because it could undermine how difficult it is to be immediately competitive in an unfamiliar category of racing. The two-time world champion was classified 13th in the final standings, a little under five hours behind winner Carlos Sainz.

Rossi made his second Baja appearance late last year.

“I want to see him do well; I don’t want to see him win it because that would annoy me!” he said. “I’ve done Baja now twice, I haven’t won my class, so it would really annoy me if he went and did his first desert race and won it.

“I was kind of relieved he didn’t, because it just shows that yes, he is one of the best racing drivers in the world, but that doesn’t mean that you can just go into a category where these guys have been doing it for their entire lives and just show up and beat them. That doesn’t really exist.

“It was the same thing when Scott (McLaughlin) tested the IndyCar. Secretly I was like, ‘Please don’t go and be the quickest guy, that would just really piss me off.’ And he wasn’t. He was fast – of course he was fast, he’s a superstar – but he was still a second off, and it just shows that there’s such a fine tolerance and such a special skill set for every series that exists; that there’s really nobody who can just show up and be immediately on the pace.

“It’s something that comes with time, and you’ll get there and learn and adapt and be good enough, but you’re not just going to show up and win everything you do. So I was glad that Fernando didn’t do that.”

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