Cyril Despres will not be racing a Yamaha at the 2015 Dakar rally, choosing instead to race a car.
Apparently, Peugeot is making a return to Dakar, and they’ve chosen Despres to drive for them. It’s a natural decision – he’s won the race five times on a bike, so he should have a good idea of how to handle himself in the desert. He won’t be the first bike racer to move to cars – Stephane Peterhansel did the same, and proved very successful on four wheels, winning five car championships in the rally.
Despres was only one year into his deal with Yamaha’s factory team, and he says he’s still going to be involved with their efforts.
“Peugeot have allowed me the possibility to train on a motorcycle and to take part in two or three races per year with a Yamaha enduro bike,” Despres said. “Because I made a commitment with Yamaha and Eric de Seynes, I will make sure I continue to share my knowledge and experience with the young Yamaha rally-raid riders.”
Despres was the 2013 champion, but only managed fourth this year, despite an impressive comeback after penalties and navigation errors had almost ruled him out. Together with Marc Coma, he was one of the faces of the Dakar rally, and the two riders between them had established KTM’s dominance, winning every race for the past decade. Even after Despres moved to Yamaha this year, he was still highly competitive, winning three stages and nabbing several other podiums.