The next time we see five-time Dakar Rally Champion, Cyril Despres compete he will no longer be riding a KTM motorcycle. In March 2013, it was announced that he was leaving KTM after twelve years. It was speculated that Despres would return to the Dakar in 2014 with the Honda Racing Team; but we now know that he has definitely signed on with Yamaha Motor France. Surely they hope that Despres will bring home victory back to them, following in the footsteps of fellow Frenchman and Dakar Rally legend, Stéphane Peterhansel. Of course, Peterhansel has won that rally six times, all on a Yamaha; and now successfully made the transition to four-wheels. This year, he snagged his fifth win in a car bringing his tally to eleven. Eleven!
“It was a tough decision to leave behind the team but it was my choice. I’ve spent a lot of time making sure I was happy with the decision I was taking and now I’m ready to roll with Yamaha.” – Cyril Despres to Tim Sturtridge
To commemorate the Despres’ arrival, Yamaha arranged for him and Peterhansel to film a video together. Both of them wore their Yamaha gear with their race bikes. Of course, while Despres displays the best of 2013 on a YZ450F Dakar specification machine, Peterhansel seemed to have stepped out of a time-machine from 1998. We’ll definitely keep our eyes open to see if Despres will continue his domination of the world’s most famous and difficult rallyraid event. In the meantime, Kurt Caselli and Chaleco Lopez will join Marc Coma and Ruben Faria as part of KTM’s Red Bull Factory Racing Team. The 2014 Dakar Rally should be very interesting indeed.