Originally Posted by too old
Cyril is a great rider, but the best?
Don't forget it wasn't that long ago when he won his 5th Dakar that it was resultant from some dubious tactics and the key fact that Faria had to let him win, otherwise Monsieur Despres would have been on the second step at best.
Not only this he has also had the best team over the years and as much as you look at things and as supported by Coma, also in many other sports, it is the total package that wins races - team, bike and rider.
On the other issue, HRC have just appointed a new GM, could they really cope with another Ze Boss?
Not only that, they must be reasonably comfortable with their current 2 European riders; they need a couple from South America where there biggest market is, so just where would that position CDP - a third pairing for HRC with a partner? - you certainly don't win the Dakar by having the largest number of riders in the team
I'm comfortable with my "best" sentiment, but I think you hit the nail on the head. It's team, bike, and rider as a package that win races which is why I don't see Cyril stepping back to a Yamaha effort short of them going to a full factory, run from the top initiative.
Of the current crop of riders, circumstances aside, there is no denying Despres' record but more importantly, his consistency. Let's face it, the good results of Pain and Casteu were more of a surprise rather than the result of superior development and support. The Yamaha can be fast on a stage to stage basis, but for one reason or another, something happens which drops Casteu way down or bumps Pain just out of the running. I feel the same about Helder. He's always right there, but for whatever reason, there seems to be something missing from his overall package that leaves him just shy of contention. I don't know if it's luck, lack of training, whatever, but in each rally, there is either a crucial mechanical error or navigational error that Despres doesn't seem to run into.
Even Coma is not immune. If a top team wants results, consistency, and a smart tactician, they can't do much better than Despres. I think a 5 rider team is certainly doable for HRC. Three top riders in Sam, Helder, and Cyril with 2 water carriers that hang back in preparation to help any of the top three. Different than the dedicated rider/water carrier pairing strategy at KTM, but in those three, you get speed and consistency to rival any riders among any other team.
Lastly, I don't think we can overlook Despres' following in South America. Sure he's European, but he's one of the few to remain dedicated to the South American races, Dos Sertoes, the Dakar Series, etc. Didn't he even learn Spanish to be better able to communicate in SA. He's a smart racer and is keen to accommodate those who butter his bread. If I were a team manager, (and I like to think I am pretty fair and impartial) I know that Cyril would be right near the top of my list if I were shopping for a top line rider.