Yamaha Racing has officially debuted its 2014 Rally race team, which is being spearheaded by Cyril Despres, the five-time Dakar Rally winner who was formerly of KTM fame. Despres hopes to defend his latest Dakar Rally win, despite swapping orange for blue, and today is our first formal viewing of the 2014 Yamaha YZ450F Rally bike with his livery.

This year’s Dakar Rally goes through Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile and will be a longer and tougher route than in past years. With KTM debuting a now purpose-built racing machine, the KTM 450 Rally, and HRC also fielding its refined Honda CRF450 Rally, Yamaha and Despres will have their work cutout for them in defending the Frenchman’s number one plate.

Team Blue has prepared itself though, taking many inputs from Despres and incorporating them into the 2014 bike’s design. We won’t know how it will go at the Dakar Rally course until January 5th, but from the pictures we have now, it sure looks the business.

“Right now we are in the final phase of preparations before leaving for South America and its pretty busy around here!” said Despres. “I have an intensive training routine that I have established with my coach and it takes up a large chunk of the day. Then there’s interviews to do, last minute details to sort out with the team, a million little details to attend to, not least of which is analyzing the 2014 route. Obviously we only get the road book the day before we race a stage so the info we have is limited.”

“It is clear is that the 2014 edition is going to be a particularly tough one. Marathon stages means no outside mechanical assistance at the bivouac and so on those days you try and protect the bike as much as possible. Bike only routes means that the organizers can take you places where the cars can’t go, so you know the riding will be more technical and usually more physically demanding.”

“The extra 1000km speak for themselves! And of course this year the bikes will go into Bolivia for the first time. On some of the other stages we have a pretty good idea of what to expect but for Bolivian stages we have absolutely no idea and even if we wanted to go and have a look we couldn’t because all reconnaissance is banned. What we do know is that they will be very demanding.”

“For a start some of it’ll be raced at 4000m and at those altitudes the air’s pretty thin. Then Bolivia is both ‘marathon’ and ‘bike only’, so doubly complicated. But demanding is fine by me. What attracted me to rally-raid in the first place is the challenge and the harder it is the happier I am.”












Source: Yamaha Racing

  • paulus

    Best of luck Cyril, 2014… it’s a tough sport!
    Really tests the riders and equipment… off-road is awesome.

  • Matt

    I’m curious if RedBull only allows a certain amount of bill curvature on the hats of their sponsored athletes? It might be a contractual thing?

  • Kaw4Life

    Few years back, he got off course then got stuck in mud. Another rider got stuck right next to him, that rider helped the Frenchman out, hit favor was not returned. The guy stood there amazed as the French ride rode off.

    Later on race direction (mostly french) waved the time penalty of the French rider but not the Spanish rider fighting for the lead.

    My point …..

    I was never a big fan of Yamaha but now I am even less of one.

  • Joe

    As a KTM fan, it’s a sad sight seeing Cyril on a blue bike.

  • DR350

    @ Kaw4Life:

    Sorry, but what you say is completely false: The way they edited the images together and broadcast them didn’t reflected how it really happened. Read more about it and you’ll see for yourself. No offense was taken from the Portuguese rider (not Spanish), as other riders had arrived and were helping him when Despres took off. And Paulo Goncalves (the Potuguese rider) wasn’t fighting for the lead (was running 10th overall at that time if I remember), but Despres was fighting for the lead. And Despres (as other riders) was compensated not for being stuck in the mud, but because the organisers had to change the route to avoid this mud bath that wasn’t indicated in the road book (due to heavy rain the night before), and that could have caused the following competitors a real nightmare. They were just following the rules…

  • Kaw4Life


    Was refering to Coma being docked time. Don’t remember the details, just my impression from the time.

  • 6330

    @ DR350 You are correct.
    The stage was a washout.

    Go Cyril!

  • DR350


    You are right, Coma was leading overall when it happened. I’m not a fan of any rider or brand in particular, I just think this all “mudgate” was blown out a proportion, and Despres was wrongfully accused. The false story made the big title in the media, but as usual, when the truth came out, nobody talked about it… Shame on the person who did the video editing. ; )

    Maybe the compensation time given to Despres (and the other riders) was a bit unfair to Coma, but those are the rules…. And if I remember correctly, Coma did not played fair the year before, when he hid and illegally changed a tire during a stage… So fair is fair… Haha!!

    Anyway, the next Dakar will be exceptional I believe. Honda is 2013 rally world champion with a new machine and excellent riders, KTM is as strong as ever (R.I.P Caselli), and Yamaha has one of the very best rally rider today. If only they can provide him with a reliable machine… (2 nights with no assistance this year).


  • Is the cylinder head reversed?

  • 6330

    Sure is.
    2013 design.