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Cyril Depres- The Early Dakar Years
2012 Dakar Rally
Despres Talks About First Dakar Experience
When I arrived at the starting line of my first Dakar in 2000, I was exhausted! I worked full time as a mechanic in a motorcycle shop in Paris and I was preparing my XR400 during my free time. As my bike rally was not really ‘ready to race’ it took me many, many evenings to mechanics. When I was not working too late at night, trying to find time to do some sport, but also to raise money by selling boxes of bottles of wine to pay my first great adventure. To my surprise my Dakar took place much better than expected and therefore BMW offered me a formal contract for the Dakar 2001. The financial part was about equal to & a grave; that I made at the workshop, but I was not too worried – at least I had to run around to organize everything, or so I thought …
For new activities have emerged, physical preparation, sponsors, media, etc … and to align myself again on the start line was the rush. 12 years later there are still more things to prepare and handle, but for the first time this year I am on time.
The secret is to start early. In fact, a rally like the Dakar begins to prepare the day after arrival, but for me things get really serious on 1 September. This date marks the end of the summer, everyone is back at work and I also began the bulk of the work.
One aspect that takes the most time in my preparation is physical training. You can not be 100% all year, but I am the training program developed with my coach to Andorra Argentina here, I gradually build the intensity of my workouts to reach my peak form while you prepare your meal ChristmasMuch time is spent at the gym, but also swimming and cycling, both on a static bike on the road. In total I spend about 20 hours per week to exercise. I also make regular visits to a medical center in Perpignan sport, Pre-sports, where I was supervised by a doctor and a physiotherapist. In addition, once a year I spend one week at the center of diagnosis and training of Red Bull in Austria. Super hi-tech, like something out of a James Bond movie and, as you can imagine, they really know what they do. At 37 they think I am now in better shape now than I was two years ago. When you spend so much time you train, the kind of result that makes you very, very happy!
I am lucky to have the same partner for many years. For example, I know few drivers who have been in contract with KTM for over 10 years! This is something that is extremely important to me. I developed close relationships with each person with whom I am in contact and this gives me the stability and peace mentally. It also means that I do not need to go look for new year and I save a lot of time and energy.
This does not mean that my sponsors do not take a little of my time. The Dakar puts me in the spotlight for a short period each year and it is therefore quite understandable that they require my presence throughout the year to get a return on their investment. This may mean making such an extreme enduro race in Colombia or to attend a conference to sponsor a non-sport. I know that many drivers do not like these kinds of obligations, but to me it does not have any problem. To begin, I appreciate all the people I deal with – otherwise it would be virtually impossible to work together – and I learned a lot from them, I met people I never had the chance to know if I had not become el pilot profession. What’s funny is that they are often in awe of me because I won three Dakar while I am often in awe of them as they studied and as they succeed in their professional lives. The end result is a tremendous mutual respect.
One of the things I do not do very often is the bike. Some drivers spend many hours each week to train on their bikes, but it is something for which I have never felt the need. It is a great advantage because when I’m on my bike, I really enjoy thoroughly. Last week, the entire KTM Rally Team had arranged to meet in southern France, Fontjoncouse, to final testing with our new machines and you could barely make myself get off the bike the last days so I had fun!
Past two years I led in part by my own team RedBull, using bikes and equipment from the factory KTM. It was a great challenge and it culminated with a victory in the Dakar in 2010, but it took a long time. This year KTM will again lead the team and is certainly one of the reasons why the preparation took place with less stress. It’s as if after two years to do everything yourself, now you ask me just come with my bags. Obviously I’m exaggerating, but I’m sure you understand me! After all these years of experience and preparation for the Dakar, I should get to Mar Del Plata fairly relaxed.