After 12 years and 10 Dakar podiums, 5 of which were victories, Cyril Despres and KTM have jointly agreed to go their separate ways, leaving Cyril free to explore new challenges and new horizons.
This very surprising announcement was made today when KTM Motorsports unveiled its new factory rally team for 2013.
Although Despres’ new adventure is still a secret, rumors that he might be switching over to four wheels have been around since his victory this year at the Dakar. The only sure thing at this stage is that he will be staying with Red Bull.
“Although I say goodbye to all these people, I am sure I will be seeing many of them again very soon, as, with the continued support of my long-time partner Redbull, I will most definitely be staying in the sport. It is a little too early to give any more details, suffice to say I am extremely motivated by the new challenge I am about to embark on and look forward to giving you further details in the very near future,” Despres today said on his official facebook page.
Pit Beirer, head of KTM Motorsports, who made the announcement regarding the new rally team said KTM had experienced an era of unprecedented success while Despres has been a member of the company’s factory rally team.
“His exemplary achievements are recognized throughout the world of motorsports and he will always be part of the history of our company. We thank him for his contribution and I join with everyone at KTM Motorsports and our entire company to wish him well for his chosen future.”
Looking forward, Beirer emphasized that it was important to remain open-minded and embrace change.
“We must invest in new talent, just as we invest in new technology and I am confident that with the new team structure we will continue to play a dominant role in rally sport.”
The new team will field a strong three-rider lineup of Marc Coma, Ruben Faria and Kurt Caselli. The KTM factory team presence will be further enhanced by top Chilean rider Francesco ‘Chaleco’ Lopez who will be supported with a full factory package. Lopez will be competing on the same factory rally machine as the other three riders.
Coma of Spain, a three times Dakar winner was unable to ride in the 2013 edition because a shoulder injury sustained in a crash in the Morocco Rally had not completely healed. He is now fit and is preparing to defend his World Championship Cross Country Rally title starting with the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge (April 4-11). He and his now former KTM factory teammate Cyril Despres between them have dominated the Dakar, winning a total of eight titles of KTM’s 12 consecutive wins in what is certainly the world’s toughest rally.
Portuguese rider Ruben Faria, long time support rider to Despres enjoyed a very successful 2013 Dakar in his own right, finishing overall second, including a stage victory. Kurt Caselli, KTM’s offroad specialist and US factory rider was called in at the last minute to ride for the injured Coma. He delivered an impressive performance in his first Dakar appearance, including two stage victories. The popular Chilean Lopez was in great form on a KTM 450 Rally bike in the 2013 edition, finishing overall third with four stage victories.
Despres wishes KTM the best of luck for the future.
“I have spent a large part of my career to date with KTM, so as you can imagine it wasn’t a decision that was taken lightly. I owe much to everyone at KTM , especially the ‘boss’ Stefan Pierer, whose enthusiasm for the sport of rally-raid matches my own. I would also like to say a big ‘thank you’ to Heinz Kinigadner and Head of Motorsport Pit Beirer and everyone in the rally department. When I arrived it was run by the much missed Hans Trunkenpolz, who taught me how to develop a rally bike, and whose work is now being very ably continued by Stefan Huber. Finally, I say a very fond farewell to my factory mechanic throughout all that time, Roland Bruckner, and my support rider during the last four Dakars, Ruben Faria, who I wish all the best for the future.”
He ended his facebook statement with a quote from explorer Mike Horn: “It’s not the end of the story, it’s just the beginning of a new one…”.
For the official KTM announcement click here.