Cyril Despres: How the chance loan of a Honda XR400 led to five Dakar wins


Finishing the Dakar is an achievement in itself, winning it is career defining but taking the top spot five times is monumental. Enter Cyril Despres, without doubt one of the Dakar’s greatest-ever riders.

Despres took on the Dakar 14 times (not including the occasions he drove in cars and lightweight vehicles), between 2000 and 2014.

Claiming five wins and five further podiums, he completed all but one of the races he entered – which is impressive considering the Dakar is possibly the most gruelling test of endurance in motorsport.

His rise to two-wheeled glory wasn’t a conventional one. In between working at his parents’ restaurant, he would often watch one of his neighbours training in the local forest…

Greg Moss

By Greg Moss