Friday, June 14


Yamaha Motor France has put the cat well and truly amongst the pigeons this month by announcing the signing of 2013 Dakar Rally Champion Cyril Despres.

Former KTM stalwart Despres will spearhead Yamaha’s quest for victory in the 2014 Dakar Rally on the Yamaha YZ450F-based machine with Frenchman Michael Metge as support rider.
Despres is the most successful Dakar rider of the last decade, winning in 2005, 2007, 2010, 2012 and 2013, his record in the world’s toughest endurance race only beaten by fellow Frenchman Stéphane Peterhansel’s impressive six victories, all taken with Yamaha.
The Dakar specification YZ450F with its unique rear slanted engine has already impressed in this year’s Dakar Rally.

The Yamaha machine took French rider David Casteu and Dutch challenger Frans Verhoeven to a stage victory each as well as holding the overall lead for four days during the first week in the hands of French rider Olivier Pain.
Yamaha and in particular Yamaha France have a long history with 'The Dakar' thanks to the determination of one man, Jean-Claude Olivier.

Known to all as ‘JCO’, Olivier was a Yamaha icon and loyal employee for 45 years until his retirement in 2010. He remained very active as an ambassador with Yamaha until killed in a road accident earlier this year.

JCO competed in the Dakar Rally for Yamaha between 1979 and 1989, finishing second in 1985. A former President of Yamaha Motor France, he was responsible for guiding Stéphane Peterhansel to no less than six Dakar victories.
The Dakar has also been an extraordinary rolling laboratory for Yamaha’s motorcycle technology. First with the single-cylinder bikes, followed by the twins up until 1998, when the development programme of the 450cc single was launched.

David Frétigné took on development of the WRF450F, including riding a 2-wheel drive version in 2004. In total, thanks to David Frétigné and Helder Rodrigues, the WR-F achieved three Dakar podiums.

Cyril Despres Biography
Cyril Despres was born on 24 January 1974 in Fontainebleau, near Paris and grew up 15 kilometres away in Nemours. Although none of his family was interested in motorsport, family friends had a son who was a trials champion, Pascal Couturier, and Cyril quickly caught the bug.

At 13 he bought an 80cc from a dealers in Paris, and with the twice world champion urging him on, Cyril competed for a dozen or so years. Encouraged by friends he entered a national level enduro and won first time out.
In 2000 Cyril and his trials riding partner Michel Gau decided to enter the Dakar and financed their participation by selling bottles of wine with a map of the Dakar route on it. Cyril raced his first Dakar and finished 16th overall and 2nd in his class.

“About halfway into the race I started to get the measure of it and decided to try and move up the rankings.”