Xavier De Soultrait: Rally-raid as a way of life

Motorbike rally-raid driver in the middle of the desert
After motocross and enduro, Xavier is now tackling the most demanding of motorbike disciplines: rally-raid.

The demanding world of rally-raid boasts a French star who never ceases to shine: Xavier De Soultrait. Talented, dedicated and passionate, this motorbike racer has carved his own path to the pinnacle of his discipline. This is the story of a ‘modest’ individual who set out to conquer the grail: the Dakar.

A promising start

Born on 10 February 1988 in Moulins, France, Xavier De Soultrait was immersed in the world of motorcycling from an early age. At just 4 years of age, he was already riding, revealing a natural gift for the sport. As a teenager, he was introduced to competition through the regional motocross championship, laying the foundations for what was to become his profession.

Two motorbike riders in action
Xavier has also cut his teeth in indoor enduro.

Right from the start, passion was the driving force behind his determination. He remembers his first rides: “My father used to go enduro riding with his mates at the weekends. He’d go trekking, so we were always there, following him, and we loved it. It was a family passion that was omnipresent at home. It was so strong that I ended up doing a bit of shopping”, he recalls.

Motorbike rider at an enduro race
Xavier De Soultrait was one of the top enduro riders

The rise to the elite

Auvergne champion and then runner-up in the French National Enduro Championship, Xavier established himself as one of the best riders in the sport. Although he achieved top 10 finishes in the world championship, his thirst for adventure and challenge led him to set off on the legendary Dakar Rally in South America in 2014: “We then had to stop due to a lack of financial resources. But as I was passionate about it, I did some odd jobs, took myself in hand and gave myself the means to relive the experience of this unique race”, he recalls.

Accelerating rally driver
Xavier De Soultrait entered the rally-raid pantheon with a stage win on the 2017 Dakar.

“I was taught the values of hard work and perseverance”

Year after year, Xavier has honed his driving skills and improved his speed and race management, adding to his sporting achievements. World Baja Champion in 2016, the native of Auvergne went on to shine in major events such as the Rally of Morocco, the Qatar Rally and the Merzouga Rally, which he won in 2017. That same year, the Auvergne native made his way up to the elite by winning a stage on the legendary Dakar Rally. In 2018, he took a crucial step in his career by joining the official Yamaha team: “I ate and slept Dakar… it was the only thing that counted. I made it an obsession, a career goal but also a life goal”, he declares.

Pilot driving over a scree
The Dakar as destiny

A race of challenges

The Dakar, the ultimate off-road endurance event, represents the grail of rally-raid. Xavier De Soultrait has taken up this challenge on numerous occasions, braving extreme conditions and hostile terrain. His best final performance came in 2019, when he finished 7th in the overall standings, consolidating his place among the world’s elite. A man of challenges, he then tried his hand at Extreme Enduro, also known as ‘Hard Enduro’. His challenge paid off, as he finished on the podium at the Enduro du Limousin and the fearsome ‘The RACE’.

After retiring from the 4th stage of the 2020 Dakar, the Frenchman joined the official Husqvarna HT Rally team the following year.

Motorbike rider in the desert
Xavier De Soultrait is constantly striving for excellence in the world of rally-raid

The SSV to finish on a high note

Xavier De Soultrait is constantly striving for excellence in the world of rally-raid. His determination, commitment and undeniable talent make him an exceptional driver. In 2024, it will compete in the SSV category. “It’s a turning point that I’ve always wanted to give to my career. What’s more, the fear of dying on the Dakar on a motorbike was growing stronger and stronger. I’m very happy, ambitious and determined to win now on 4 wheels”, he confides.

The Dakar in the SSV car category
Now a driver in the official Polaris team, he has his sights set on the Dakar 2024, which will be his first in the SSV category

Considerable risks

In top-level sport, and particularly in rally-raid, the question of insurance is of paramount importance: “We’re looking for adrenalin and thrills, which are closely linked to the dangerous nature of the discipline. But we mustn’t forget that everything can stop in a split second. A slight loss of concentration and you’re guaranteed to fall, sometimes with serious consequences”, he insists.

It is crucial to understand that passion for the sport can lead to an excess of confidence and risk-taking. When you find yourself taking part in a prestigious competition such as the Dakar, the competitive instinct can quickly get the better of you: “I didn’t want to be the worst runner-up, I wanted to take the risk of winning. In 2021, I’ll fracture a cervical vertebra”, reports Xavier. Unfortunately, this quest for victory at all costs sometimes leads to serious injury, or worse, death. Since its creation in 1979, the Dakar has recorded almost 50 deaths.

The Polaris SSV team
The official Polaris SSV team ready for the Dakar 2024

Insuring your future

Xavier De Soultrait is supported in his career by Insure Your Sport, a French company specialising in sports insurance. He recognises the crucial importance of this type of cover for riders: “Being insured frees you mentally and allows you to ride in complete relaxation. It takes the worry away and allows athletes to concentrate fully on their sporting adventures”, he stresses.

Insure Your Sport is not just for professional athletes. This 100% online service offers solutions for all sports enthusiasts, from simple leisure pursuits to regular or high-level activities. “Their formulas provide a package of cover dedicated to sport, so that everyone can engage in their favourite discipline with complete peace of mind,” he adds.

By Charly Colin

Dakar motorbike rider followed by helicopter
All the beauty of rally-raid illustrated in this photo