Yamaha’s Cyril Despres will not be returning for another crack at the Dakar, at least not in the motorcycle class. The five-time Dakar winner has switched to the four-wheeled ranks, and will compete with the newly formed Peugeot Sport rally-raid project.
“Peugeot Sport offered me a place as a driver on their new rally-raid project. Such an opportunity only comes once in a career,” said Despres. “However, 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. 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.”
“We can but respect the interest that a large car manufacturer like Peugeot takes in a motorcycle rider like Cyril Despres,” said De Seynes, Operational Director of Yamaha Motor Europe. “For sure, we had some shared ambitions with Cyril, who is a great competitor, so this opportunity of his means we will have to adapt our plans moving forward. But we have a strong rally team, a very competitive motorcycle, professional assistance and we will have competitive riders with the objective for victory in 2014/15. Cyril will remain in the world of motorcycles as a motorcycle ambassador of Yamaha, and will bring us his support as we continue to challenge for off-road glory with our rally-raid development program.”
Despres switched to Yamaha for the 2014 Dakar after a successful run with the KTM factory team – where he was a perennial favorite along with his Spanish rival and fellow KTM rider Marc Coma. The French rider was once again a favorite in 2014, but a few incidents and penalties set Despres back. Despite these difficulties he still managed to finish fourth. Despres is second on the all-time Darkar Rally win list behind countryman Stephane Peterhansel. A former Yamaha rider himself, Peterhansel successfully transitioned from two- to four-wheeled rally success with five Dakar car victories.