Five-time Dakar bike winner Cyril Despres will be co-driven by serial explorer Mike Horn when the 2020 rally gets going.
Very little information about the participation of Despres has filtered through into the public domain, following his fifth place last year in Peru behind the wheel of a Team X-Raid buggy, and not without reason, because the project he has been discretely preparing hinged on a significant condition.
Despres has been a long-standing acquaintance of adventurer Horn and offered him the opportunity to be his co-pilot in a Team Red Bull SSV. Thrilled at the possibility of making a “childhood dream come true”, the globetrotter of the poles and summits accepted the challenge, but a turn of events seemed set to put paid to such an adventure.
His crossing of the Arctic Ocean on skis to the North Pole was severely disrupted by the worrying reduction in the size of the ice pack. The delays incurred and the danger to which he was exposed threatened to compromise the formation of this illustrious duo on the Dakar. However, Horn will indeed be able to respect his commitment to Despres in Jeddah:
“My life as an explorer has led me to many different places and now to the Dakar Rally. I got stuck on the ice for a month, but thankfully I’m now on my way to Saudi Arabia to meet up with my friend Cyril Despres,” he said.
The Frenchman will be undertaking a double sporting challenge on this year’s race: he will be in the reckoning for victory in the SSV category, but will also be participating as a figurehead of the Red Bull operation aimed at promoting the category and discovering new young talents.
This year, the operation’s hopes lie with the Americans Blade Hildebrand, 21 years old, and Mitch Guthrie Jr, aged 23.