My personal exclusive interview to Cyril Despres at Safari Rally in Australia. In the next days available in italian @ moto.it. Please share the link
1. Hi Cyril, how is your preparation for the 2012 Dakar going?
“It is going very well. I started my physical preparations at the beginning of September and everything is on schedule. For 2012 we won’t be running our own team, as we have done the last two years, so that means I have more time to concentrate on training and riding the bike. It is all about time management. In the run up to the Dakar everybody wants to do interviews and for you to go to shows etc. That is normal and part of a professional rider’s job, but you need to get the balance right, find enough time for your preparations, enough time to make yourself available for sponsors etc and enough time for your family. Fortunately I now have the experience to plan things properly.”
2. Can you give us any hint on any new technical feature on the 2012 Rally model?
“Since the last Dakar there have been a few very minor modifications but nothing important. The bike was good right from the start – reliable and nice to ride – so we haven’t had to do much to it.”
3. From when you became father has your approach to races changed? Do you feel changed?
“Not so much. Maybe now I think a little more before accepting an invitation to go somewhere, but apart from that being a Dad hasn’t made much difference. Any difference it has made has been positive. I think that when you are happy and your life is good you are stronger in your head and that’s useful because rally-raid is a very mental sport.”
4. Would you want your son to follow your footsteps?
“Well at the moment I don’t have to ask myself that question because I have a daughter! However if one day I have a son I hope I will have the intelligence to let him make up his mind what he wants to do and the enthusiasm to encourage him to go as far as he wants in whatever interests him. Being a full time sportsman requires a lot of discipline and a lot of sacrifice. It isn’t for everybody.”
5. There are people saying that next year you will retire and that this could be your last Dakar is it true?
“You know I have no plans to retire, but neither do I have any plans to continue until a certain date. As long as I enjoy racing motorcycles I will continue to do so. However the moment I don’t like to race any more I will stop. When that moment will come I have absolutely no idea.”
6. Is it true that you would like a future on 4 wheels like Petehransel and that you already have had contacts with some teams?
“First of all I don’t think anybody will ever have a career like Peterhansel’s. He is really an exceptional person and pretty much unique in terms of his ability. Sometimes I think about racing cars and as rally-raid is a small world and cars and bikes race together of course I have had contact with car teams – we all queue up for dinner together every evening! However I haven’t really pursued any of those contacts because, as I said before, I really like racing motorcycles. You know I calculate a lot of things. When I am on the bike I am calculating things all the time, it is the only way to win. But off the bike I don’t calculate too much. Maybe it is because I am tired from making race calculations. Maybe it is because there is nothing to calculate. Perhaps one day a super opportunity will come my way and I will jump off a bike and into a car, but these aren’t the sort of things you can plan for.”
7. What made you decide to partecipate at the Australasian Safari Rally?
“Several things. Firstly it was the only major race I hadn’t done so I wanted to cross it off the list. Also I have always loved to go to wide open spaces and in terms of wide open spaces Australia is very well endowed. Also I have met a few Australians before on my travels and I always liked there easy going attitude.”
8. Now that the race has finished what is your opinion on this Rally? Do you think you will come back?
“My opinion is mixed. The people were as friendly as I had hoped they would be, the country was bigger than I imagined and the logistics and medical cover were good. However they need to work on the road book. You can go to pretty much any other rally in the world now and adapt to the road book fairly quickly, they are all speaking the same ‘language’. At the moment that isn’t the case for the Australasian Safari. However they have a new boss and they are aware of the problems and hopefully they will bring their event into line with the others. If they manage to do so they could have a great event and in that case I would be happy to go back.”
9. How come, apart from the Sardinia Rally, you don’t take part in any other rally of the World Championship? Is there anything you would change in the championship?
“The problem, if problem is the right word, is that rally-raid is dominated by the Dakar. The general public all know about the Dakar but none of them have ever heard of the other races. That means that sponsors and manufacturers all want you to do well on the Dakar and don’t care too much about the other races. The other ‘problem’ is that a rider can’t be 100% all year. If you train to be 100% for the Dakar inevitably it means you won’t be 100% elsewhere. Ideally we would have the Dakar and maybe two other shorter races that had really excellent media coverage and that were as well organized as the Dakar. And in a really perfect world those three events would make up a world championship that everybody was really interested in. Unfortunately that isn’t the case. Fortunately there is the Sardinia Rally. Rally raid is all about the road book. If the road book is good the rest follows. The Sardinia Rally’s road book is really excellent and that makes it a great event to ride. Nobody forced Stephane Peterhansel to race this year’s event, he raced purely for pleasure. Come to that nobody forced me to race in Sardinia either. Professional or not, everybody rides for pleasure.”
10. Last question, what advice can you give to young riders like me that want to try the adventure of the Dakar?
“Where do I start – there is so much to say! Firstly you need to do some other road book rallies, then you need to make sure you are physically fit enough and mentally strong enough, your bike needs to be well prepared and you need to have enough budget to do things properly. Above all you need to have time. Doing the Dakar is all about the detail and to get the details right you need to be able to give it time. Finally, unless you are planning to become a professional rider, never forget it is about having fun. If you don’t enjoy it, there’s no point in going.”
Thank you very much and good luck!I still have no budget, still didn’t start the bike preparation and just got out of hospital…..i dunno how but i hope i’ll see you at Dakar!