Cyril Despres recently won his third victory in the Red Bull Romaniacs Hard Enduro in only four years that the event has been run, offering riders the challenges of Romania's Carpathian Mountains.
The third victory for Despres came only on the final day after his friend and fellow professional Michel Gau crashed and broke his arm in the final stages. Cyril talks to KTM.com about the 2007 event.
What are your impressions of the race this year?
Despres: It was certainly very tough, with long days on the bike and very varied landscapes.
But as far as riding Enduro is concerned I think it is one of the best and most beautiful countries I've experienced. The event was generally well organized, although there were some problems with the location of one of the checkpoints and this was something that could have been avoided. But all in all it was a good balance of terrain and it was very challenging for the riders.
In terms of Hard Enduro rallies, how do you rate the Romaniacs?
Despres: I think it is up there with the top three.
What about the situation concerning Michel Gau's accident? This was an important point in the race for you.
Despres: Sure, we were really fighting in the first days and the results of the top three or four were very close. It was clear to us that whoever won that day was going to win the race. Then Michel hit a root and he came off and went into a tree. In fact he broke his arm and dislocated his wrist and we found out later he had also pinched a tendon because after that he didn't have any feeling in his fingers. I stopped to help him because even though we are competitors we have been friends for 15 years. I was able to rig up a kind of a splint to get his arm in place until the first aid team got there.
How many riders passed you during that time?
Despres: I'm not sure but I didn't lose any time because I was able to call the organizers as soon as it happened and then they called me again just as the first aid guys were arriving, so the time I spent with him was deducted from my aggregate time. By the way I have been to see him in the hospital in Marseilles and he is doing ok. He has to have some more tests about the ligament problem but he's in good spirits.
You were riding the new KTM 300 EXC-E 2008 model and this is the first victory for this bike. What are your impressions?
Despres: Well as a rider we are always concerned about the bikes having any extra weight and I was a bit unsure before the race about the addition of the battery and the electronic starter for that reason. But I have to say it was very helpful in many situations and it is definitely an advantage when you have to stop at rocky sections or to push the bike over rough terrain. It's actually great to be able to just push that little button to start up again. Also the whole bike is nice to manage and I enjoyed riding it a lot, also with the new tank design. When you are on the bike for 200 km a day it's important to have a bike that is comfortable and that you feel good riding!