Five-time Dakar champ, Cyril Despres, might have made his name in the dirt, but the Frenchman, and former mechanic, takes a lot of pride in riding classic street motorcycles. And now that he’s retired from two-wheel competition, he’s chosen to occupy some of his time by putting together the Andorra 500 Classic Moto Road Regularity Rally. The event is the new Peugeot rally-raid driver’s way of putting something back into the sport that gave him so much and maintain his lifelong passion for all things two-wheeled.
Despres has spent practically his entire professional career based in Andorra, so having the rally here makes sense. However, the border areas between France and Spain provide some great roads with fantastic scenery, which will only add to the epic nature of the rally. Better still, the Andorran government is completely supportive of the event, facilitating road closures and logistical support to make the rally go as smoothly as possible. When was the last time that happened in this country?!
The riders will cover 500 kilometers (310 miles) over the course of three and a half days riding. The route will consist of three loops, one per day, all starting from the rally HQ in Ordino and highlighting the best the countryside has to see, ride, and eat! The event will include classes for machines from ‘pre-war’ to the ‘eighties.’ For fans of modified machines, there will also be categories for café-racers, bobbers and modified neo-retros.
As for the course, although Cyril is strongly associated with ‘off-road’, the event will only include a short section of gravel track. “Riding bikes in the dirt is what I did for work,” says Despres. Riding classic bikes on the amazing tarmac roads we have here in the region is such a pleasure and that is what I want to share with participants.”
He continues, “but of course, with my background, there has to be an element of sport. The ‘regularity’ component, with participants having to maintain an average speed over closed roads and local tracks will give the Andorra 500 just the right dose of competition.” The details are still being finalized but the idea is to ‘pepper’ the route with timed specials, plus gymkhanas and a concourse d’elegance. Just enough to raise the event above a simple ‘ride-out’ without making it too serious.
What Cyril and his team have bought from the world of rally is the system of navigation, with all participants’ machines being fitted with a Tripy electronic GPS road book. Much simpler to use than its paper equivalent, it brings a taste of Dakar to the event while allowing everybody’s average speed to be accurately calculated. The team are also keen to recreate the conviviality of the rally bivouac, so while hotel accommodation will be provided for all participants, the evenings’ activities will be centre around the rally village in the hotel’s grounds, with music groups, presentations by Cyril and some of his colleagues, nightly barbecues and a gala prize giving all contributing to the rally ambiance.
The exact date of the event will be announced in the next month and other details will be given as and when they become available. For more information, visit www.andorra500.com.