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Legends on Legends: Stéphane Peterhansel on Cyril Despres

When was the first time you ‘noticed’ Cyril Despres?

I first noticed Cyril when he was riding in his first Dakar Rally.

When did you first think he was going to be a Dakar winner?

In 2001 he came to Vesoul to train with me, I noticed that he had a good technical level and a really strong motivation. I said to myself; “This guy, will get there!”

Do you think he has a similar riding style and approach to Dakar as you?

He doesn’t have the same riding style to me, but like me, he has the same approach to the race. He doesn’t leave any details to chance. In addition, the physical preparations required to race have evolved a great deal since my time and he is in excellent physical condition.

What do you think makes him special enough to win five titles?

What makes Cyril unique is his intense motivation. His principal quality is his professionalism, and of course his excellent riding and navigational skills.

When did you first think of him being on a Yamaha?

I have known Cyril for a long time and it was myself who tried to create the initial liaison with Yamaha. I was very happy when I heard he had a contract confirmed with Yamaha, although it is still a real surprise to see him in blue!

Have you shared any Dakar secrets with him this year to help him fight for his sixth win?

Cyril is a good friend of mine so I’ve always tried to share my experience with him. Now, he’s joined Yamaha, myself and my copilot will give him some information to help navigation!

Why do you think Despres and Yamaha will be such a good team?

The Yamaha YZ450F motorcycle is powerful and the Yamaha team is really committed to winning the 2014 Dakar. Cyril is a big professional and so I hope that the teaming of ‘Cyril and Yamaha’ will succeed!

What do you think will be the biggest challenge for Cyril in the 2014 Dakar?

His challenge will be the race itself because it is harder than the other years. The Dakar is always difficult, it is not necessary to be the best, but mistakes should not be made and it is necessary to pass through all the traps to finish.

What’s your impression of the 2014 Yamaha 450 Dakar bike?

This race will be very interesting because the two best riders (Coma and Despres) are not any more in the same team! I had the chance to test the Yamaha YZF450, it is very powerful and the engine is reliable and powerful, so this motorcycle has all its chances, especially in the hands of Cyril.

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