Back in March, we told you top Dakar desert racer Cyril Despres was leaving KTM’s factory racing team. Now we know where he’s going.
At the time, there was plenty of speculation as to Despres’ destination – Honda’s certainly looking for an ace rider, and before they were sold to KTM owner Stefan Pierer, Husqvarna seemed to be making a strong effort to gain traction at Dakar (har, har!). But the word is out now that Despres is going to Yamaha for the 2014 and 2015 races.
The move makes great sense, really. Yamaha has been the manufacturer most close to unseating KTM at Dakar over the past few years, and they’ve got a great history at the race, although they haven’t taken a first-place overall victory since 1998. KTM’s team was starting to look a bit crowded – along with Despres, they had Marc Coma and up-and-comer Kurt Caselli, and maybe there wouldn’t have been room for all three riders for long anyway.
The question is – KTM has dominated Dakar for a long, long time now. Can Despres show it’s not just the bike, but the rider aboard it, by winning with Yamaha? Maybe, maybe not, but you can bet he’s going to give KTM’s factory guys a serious run for their money in the desert next January.