Frenchman Cyril Despres is a five-time winner of the Dakar Rally in 2005, 2007, 2010, 2012 and 2013, riding a KTM motorcycle on each occasion. Since 2003, Cyril has competed in the event ten times, and has never finished lower than third place, with four runners-up spots to go with his overall victories. Since first competing in the event in 2000, he has won 31 stages.
He has also won the Red Bull Romaniacs Hard Enduro Rallye in Romania three times (in 2004, 2005 and 2007) and the Erzberg Rodeo enduro event in Austria twice (in 2002 and 2003).
Unlike many of the Dakar champions that have come before him, Cyril, who was born in Nemours, didn't grow up in a family with an established love of motorsport. Instead, his inspiration came from watching a friend riding in motocross competitions. A determined Cyril raised enough money to get himself to the start line of his first Dakar in 2000 by selling special Dakar wine with a label that showed a map of the race route. He was rewarded for his performance that year with a contract to race for BMW.
Cyril’s intuitive knowledge of the tactical side of the Dakar Rally has often allowed him to win the event without winning many individual stages. For his victory in 2005, he only won two stages on the route between Barcelona and Dakar. His latest victory, earlier this year, saw him win just one stage.
- Age: 40
- Height: 1.80m
- Weight: 82kg
- Nationality: France