Five-time Dakar winner Despres reflects on car switch

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After a record-breaking five victories in the motorcycle class of the Dakar Rally, Cyril Despres made the switch for 2015 to cars, partnering Stephane Peterhansel, a former winner of the race in both cars and bikes.

Driving for the factory Peugeot team, Despres managed to make it to the finish line with co-driver Gilles Picard, finishing in 34th place.

Speaking after the race, Despres said that despite his huge experience of the exceptionally difficult three-week race, he was left astounded by how much he had to re-learn after his switch.

“This has been a whole new world for me. It’s like going back in time a few years to when I was making my debut on bikes. And it’s also quite hard to find yourself not fighting for the top places anymore when you’ve been used to doing so in the past."

"This was a high-speed learning curve for me, featuring pretty much all the conditions you could imagine and a few more that you couldn’t! I think I’ve got more stories to tell about my one Dakar in a car than I have about my last seven years on a bike… And that is something that actually I hadn’t reckoned on. When I left Buenos Aires, I had just one thing in mind: getting to the end without making any mistakes. In the end we made a few, but we still got here.”

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Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer