From Despres' facebook page
Four-time Dakar Rally champion Cyril Despres shares his top tips for getting to grips with the race.
Let me begin by wishing everybody coming to the 2013 Dakar Rally in South America lots of luck for the race, I look forward to seeing you all soon.
Something that has helped me so much during my 12 years racing the Dakar has been my mechanical knowledge. Performing the necessary checks on your bike regularly throughout the race is absolutely essential. If you ignore a problem on your bike then the Dakar can end early for you. Pay attention to all the little details – Is the battery charged? What is that smell coming from the engine? Do I have enough oil? It may sound a little basic but this is the first step towards having a success race.
Looking after your own body is equally as important as looking after your bike. Again there is a list of questions you should be asking yourself at regular intervals – Have I drunk enough water today? Am I warm enough? Have I cleaned my equipment? You need to have a checklist to keep on top of everything. There’s so much more to this race than just jumping on the bike and turning the throttle.
Racing the Dakar is such a test of endurance that you must have a real passion for the challenge if you are to make it to the finish. This passion for the race is something I see in everyone who comes to the Dakar. It has grown since the Dakar has come to South America and more locals have joined the race. The passion these guys have for the race and their flag has blown me away. Your passion will be tested during the Dakar but never forget you are doing something that you love.
With the race now only a few weeks away hopefully you are happy with all your preparations. The reality is that preparing to race for 15 long and competitive days is not an easy task. One thing to remember is that even if you are coming with a team of mechanics when the race starts you will be alone in that desert. For hour after hour and kilometre after kilometre you will not have your support network with you so be prepared for that.
Cyril's five key steps to surviving the Dakar
1 – Work on your mechanical knowledge, if you look after your bike then your bike will look after you.
2 – Take care of yourself. Make sure you eat and sleep well and keep all of your equipment in good condition.
3 – Take your time at every stage of the rally and never try to rush. In the mornings make sure you and your bike are properly warmed up.
4 – Remember to enjoy yourself! If you have a bad day don’t get too stressed, there’s always another stage or even another to year to put things right.
5 – The most important thing I can say – Never ride in the dust. The Dakar is dangerous and the best way to have a safe race is to stay out of the dust.
I hope you find this advice helpful and I looking to seeing you at the start (and hopefully the end) of the 2013 Dakar Rally.