25-year-old Frenchman Xavier de Soultrait, an exciting prospect in rallies, is one of the Dakar newcomers who will get lots of attention.
Xavier de Soultrait flaunts his confidence without ever crossing into arrogance. That is not to say that Yamaha's young enduro rider, who competes with the world enduro elite year-round, has no good reason to be sanguine.
However, talent sometimes goes hand in hand with a healthy dose of insight, and Xavier understands perfectly the importance of experience when it comes to building a career at the Dakar:
"I'm not worried at all, and I'm not really nervous either. That's because I know how to ride a motorcycle and because I'll make sure of riding within myself and setting a relaxed pace so I can make it to the finish and gain some experience. On the other hand, riding motorcycles is my job, so I'll do my best to leave my mark on the Dakar in a couple of years. This'll be my first rally raid, but I already know I want to focus on this discipline and challenge for the top honours in a few years' time." The Auvergne rider's ambitious roadmap starts in January, but his plans for the future also include a social initiative: "Our team works with a centre for troubled young people, to whom we try to assign tasks such as preparing our motorcycles or helping us in competitions. I hope we'll be able to take some of them with us to the Dakar from next year onwards, so they can work in the assistance team."
In the meantime, Xavier can count on the support of the young people in Moulins in January. "Make those who stay behind dream", as someone once said…