Dakar 2014: Cyril Despres’ Yamaha YZ450F Rally RevealedWed, 18 Dec 2013
Despres will lead a factory team which includes Michael Metge, Olivier Pain and Frans Verhoeven to South America for the 2014 Dakar Rally which kicks off Jan. 5. The Dakar legend tasted victory in 2005, 2007, 2010, 2012 and 2013, but all of those wins were on KTM machines. The 2014 Rally marks Despres’ debut with the Yamaha factory team, and the Japanese manufacturer will be going all-out to get Despres’ a record-tying sixth Dakar win.
Yamaha took advantage of Despres’ Dakar experience in developing the YZ450F Rally, with hopes of ending KTM’s domination in the race. KTM riders swept the top five of the motorcycle class in 2013. Yamaha was able to have some success at last year’s Rally, with Pain holding the overall lead from Stages four to seven while fellow YZ450F riders Verhoeven and David Casteu each won a single stage.
The 2014 Dakar Rally will have a new, longer route and Despres says he expects a tough race.
“It is clear is that the 2014 edition is going to be a particularly tough one. Marathon stages means no outside mechanical assistance at the bivouac and so on those days you try and protect the bike as much as possible,” says Despres. “Bike only routes means that the organisers can take you places where the cars can’t go, so you know the riding will be more technical and usually more physically demanding.
The route again runs through Argentina and Chile but Peru was dropped in favor of a route through Bolivia to present an entirely new challenge.
“On some of the other stages we have a pretty good idea of what to expect but for Bolivian stages we have absolutely no idea and even if we wanted to go and have a look we couldn’t because all reconnaissance is banned,” says Despres. “What we do know is that they will be very demanding. For a start some of it’ll be raced at 4000m and at those altitudes the air’s pretty thin. Then Bolivia is both ‘marathon’ and ‘bike only’, so doubly complicated. But demanding is fine by me. What attracted me to rally-raid in the first place is the challenge and the harder it is the happier I am.”
By Dennis Chung
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