Cyril Despres Enrique Castro Mendivil/Red Bull Content Pool

Cyril Despres talks about the launch of his book, 4X Dakar, as he hopes to shift through the gears with his support for a school in Senegal…

I’ve never been a fan of convention so it makes sense that I should write this book about my career before I have stopped racing. The fact is that I’ve done the book now because I think it’s a good way to raise money for my school in Senegal.

Writing the book was a tough task for me because I’m not a novelist, I’m an off-road racer! I had help putting the book together but it’s like when I race, even though my mechanics prepare the bike I always do my own checks before I hit the trail.

I checked and rechecked the facts and made sure that every word in the book had the exact meaning that I wanted to express. I needed to be sure there was zero percent bullshit in the book!

I looked back on all the key moments during the 12 years I have been racing the Dakar Rally. I tell the story of the four Dakar titles I have won and also look at my saddest moments, especially the death of my team-mate, Fabrizio Meoni, in 2005.

It was through Fabrizio that I first got involved with the school in Senegal. I’m hoping that selling this book can give this school a real boost.

'I had help putting it together but I needed to be sure there was zero percent bullshit!'

We reduced the cost of producing the book as much as we could and we eventually got it down to €10. The cost to buy the book is €30 so this means every book we sell we can send €20 to the school. To keep a child in the school costs €2 per month, they attend school 10 months out of the year selling one book allows a child to attend a full school year.

At the moment there are 321 children attending the school in Senegal and 13 teachers working there. My hope is that we can cover the cost of educating these kids for at least three years by selling the book. We also want to invest some money in the school to make the place bigger. The reality is that there are another thousand children in the area that would like to attend but we just don’t have the space. What we can achieve over in Senegal will depend on how many books we can sell.

Africa gave me all I have, it gave me my titles and gave me everything else I have. Africa gave me the opportunity to do my sport and allowed me to live my life the way I do. I hope this book can help me to keep giving something back because there should always be some give and not just take.

As soon as the book came out this week we got orders from Brazil, Canada, Australia, Russia and many other countries. It’s good to know that people are interested all over the world. After receiving the book people have sent back comments that they have enjoyed my story. I was not somebody special when I started to race, I just determined and this seems to get people who read the book inspired to follow their own dreams.

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