My world has always revolved around participating in car competitions, said the famous French rally racer and resident of Andorra Cyril Despres


Cyril Despres is a motorcycle and auto rider from France, mainly practicing the rally-raid. Between 2005 and 2013 he won the Dakar Rally moto five times. This year he organized two events in Andorra (Pyrenees) which were related to moto: “The Andorra 500” and “The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride” (DGR). He told how it all came about and his projects for the coming year.

Interview : Irina Rybalchenko

What do you do professionally now?

I have never been a speed pilot. I’ve always been an “off road” pilot, no matter in which discipline it was, but never on the road. I started my motorcycle career at the age of 14 thanks to my friend who was involved in moto trial. I stopped my motorcycle career in 2014. Today I am a professional car pilot and member of the Peugeot-Total rally raid team.

Do you live in Andorra?

Yes, I have been living in Andorra for the last 16 years.

Do you have any plans to organize international competitions in Andorra?

It´s not my goal. Andorra organizes the super moto championship in Pas de la Casa (Encamp parish) as well as the world moto trial championship.

Please tell me about “The Andorra 500” event which was held this summer.

Yes, we organized “The Andorra 500” with some different people (Stéphane Peterhansel, Matthias Dandois and other sport stars) here in Andorra. “The Andorra 500” is more like a festival of retro and classic motorcycles and a way to have a good time. We went through the Andorran and Spanish mountain roads. There are plenty of excellent twisty roads in Andorra; as if this country was made for motorbike enthusiasts.

How many times has “The Andorra 500” already been held in Andorra?

This year was the second anniversary.

Please tell me about “The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride” (DGR), which took place in Andorra on 25th September. How many people participated and where were they from?

In total sixty people had registered for the event. But in the end we had about 5-6 more bikes. Most people were from Andorra, but there were also some people from France and 2-3 participants from Spain.

Was it your idea to organize this event in Andorra?

The idea comes from the story about an Australian man Mark Hawwa who was inspired by a photo of Don Draper, a character from the series Mad Men, straddling a motorcycle while wearing his most beautiful costume. Mark decided that it could be a great way to combat the negative stereotypes attributed to motorcycle riders and to simultaneously connect all the communities of motorcycles lovers. Mark, like myself, is an ambassador for the watch brand Zenith, which helped for the first year (2012) with the organization and sponsorship of DGR. So it was easy for me to say ”well, let´s organize DGR in Andorra – in this case we don’t need to go to Barcelona (Catalonia), Saint-Tropez (Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur), Toulouse (Occitania) or Paris to participate in this event…”

It is an event for everyone?

No, it is only for those who ride on a motorcycle such as a cafe racer, bobber, classic, tracker, scrambler, chopper, old-fashioned, modern, classic, side-car or classic scooter.

Andorra has participated in the project for the first time. 60 participants, is this a little or a lot?

Without doubt it was a great success. The percentage of participants relative to the size of the country is the largest representation in the world.

Is it a competition or a show?

This is neither a competition nor a show. It’s just an idea to unite different people. There were representatives from banks, sportsmen, mechanics, journalists… And we were all brought together because we love motorcycles.

What are the conditions attached to participating? It is expensive?

No, the minimum charge is only 1 euro. Here in Andorra with 60 participants, we made 2000 euros. Looking at all the “The Distinguished Gentlemen’s Rides” in the world, there were about 50000 motorcycles and we all collected 3000 dollars in total.

Do you have any plans to open a school or offer professional driving courses?

No. My day-to-day life revolves around participating in and hosting car competitions so it’s not really possible.

What are your plans for the coming year?

We will organize “The Andorra 500” and the DGR – which will be held on the last Sunday of September, as it is for all participating countries.

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