Five-time Dakar Rally winner Cyril Despres will make the move from two wheels to four, the Frenchman having signed a contract with Peugeot Sport that will see him spearhead the company’s return to rally racing after a 25-year hiatus.

“Peugeot Sport offered me a place as a driver on their new rally-raid project,” said Despres, who inked a two-year contract with Yamaha last year for the 2014 and 2015 seasons. “Such an opportunity only comes once in a career. However, because I made a commitment with Yamaha and Eric de Seynes, I will make sure I continue to share my knowledge and experience with the young Yamaha rally-raid riders. Peugeot have allowed me the possibility to train on a motorcycle and to take part in two or three races per year with a Yamaha enduro bike.”

Yamaha finished third and fourth in this year’s Dakar with Olivier pain finishing third and Despres fourth. Despres won three stages in the rally.

De Seynes was understanding of Depres’ career change.

“We can but respect the interest that a large car manufacturer like Peugeot takes in a motorcycle rider like Cyril Despres,” said de Seynes, operational director of Yamaha Motor Europe. “For sure, we had some shared ambitions with Cyril, who is a great competitor, so this opportunity of his means we will have to adapt our plans moving forward. But we have a strong rally team, a very competitive motorcycle, professional assistance and we will have competitive riders with the objective for victory in 2014/15. Cyril will remain in the world of motorcycles as a motorcycle ambassador of Yamaha, and will bring us his support as we continue to challenge for off-road glory with our rally-raid development program.”

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Paul Carruthers | Editor

Paul Carruthers took over as the editor of Cycle News in 1993 after serving as associate editor since starting his career at the publication in 1985. Carruthers has covered every facet of the sport in his near-28-year tenure at America’s Daily Motorcycle News Source.

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