Chris Blais on the Podium
3rd place overall in the Dakar Rally 2007
Congratulations, You Did It! What an amazing accomplishment!
Our deepest sympathy goes out to Elmer Symons family.
God speed my good friend, you will be missed.
Chris and Patty Blais
2007 Dakar Rally - Chris Blais Top American
Only American Representing KTM / Red Bull Team
3rd place overall
Dakar 2007 Updates and Photos
Posting Race info, interviews and calls from Chris
Much thanks to my Team that was there with me:
Mechanic Matt Spencer and Dr. Johnathan Edwards
We Did It!
Chris is on the KTM/Red Bull bike #9
Stage 1: 7th place overall
Stage 2: 18th place overall
Stage 3: 5th place overall
Stage 4: 4th place overall
Stage 5: 5th place overall
Stage 6: 4th place overall
Stage 7: 5th place overall
Stage 8: 4th place overall
Stage 9: 4th place overall
Stage 10: 4th place overall
Stage 11: Section not timed
Stage 12: 4th place overall
Stage 13: 3rd place overall
Stage 14: 3rd place overall
Finished: 3rd place overall
+ 08'37"00 5 5
The 2007 Dakar Rally begins on January 6th. Crossing of Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Mauritania, Mali and arriving in Senegal on January 20th. January 21st is the finish in Dakar, where there is Prize giving and an evening party.
The daily showing of Dakar Rally 2007 starting Jan. 7th 2007, will be on the Versus channel.
KTM Racers - Group Photo 2007
(Chris standing on the right)
2007 Dakar Rally Route
American Chris Blais, fourth last year races alone for Red Bull KTM of the USA.
Dakar Rally 2007 runs over 5000 miles of dangerous terrain, sand, rocks, riverbeds, dunes, and rough roads, you name it. The Dakar Rally requires extreme endurance and navigational skills. Get your Chasing Dakar book here and request to be signed by Chris Blais
Navigation skills are key to winning the race this year as speed limits have been imposed on motorcyclists, 95 mph and passing through villages 30 mph.
Chris Blais Top American finished 4th place overall in the 2006 Dakar Rally
Chris Blais the Top American Rookie finishing in 9th place overall in the 2005 Dakar Rally
Dakar 2007 Updates
Chris Blais on the Podium as 3rd place overall in Dakar 2007
Overall place: 3rd place - 9 BLAIS (USA) KTM +00:52:06
25th place in Stage
Chris Blais (USA – KTM – 3rd in the overall rankings)
It all seems surreal. I think it will actually hit me when I’m back home in the US. I had to keep going, there had to be an American on the podium. What matters the most in the Dakar is to remain steady. It paid off for me. I felt much better than in my previous Dakars. Cyril Despres has again proven that he is the best because he is clever in the race. My aim now is to win the Dakar one day and today I know I can.
Overall place: 3rd place - 9 BLAIS (USA) KTM +00:53:01
4th place in Stage
Chris Blais (USA – KTM – 4th) - 9
It’s good to be in Dakar. It’s just awesome to see the sea after so many days in the desert. I am happy this is over. Today, I took my time. On km 56, Cyril Despres who was in front of me made a navigation error. I found the right trail right away, but then he caught up with me. The initial goal was to be in the top 3 but as we saw, in the Dakar, you never know what will happen until the race is actually over.
Overall place: 3rd place - 9 BLAIS (USA) KTM +00:54:52
2nd place in Stage
Following a crash after 57 km of the day’s special stage, Spanish rider Marc Coma is suffering from a head injury. However, the Spaniard did not lose consciousness and was able to speak with Team Manager Jordi Arcarons, before being transported to Dakar to undergo further examinations.
Chris call: It sounds like Marc hit his head pretty hard and was 'out of it' for a while. Sounds like he might have slammed into a tree. He did not know where he was or what happened. They think because he was off course and in thick brush, it was hard to find him. Chris said the bike has no damage but that Marc has a severe concussion. He will be in the hospital overnight so he can be monitored. Our best wishes go out to Marc!
Chris didn't know about Marc until the finish line. He said the press people are almost like the papar***i at the finish line. He just said "I feel really bad for Marc and I hope he's ok". I can tell he feels pretty bad for his friend. He just said "It's almost over - I'll be home soon".
2 more days...
Overall place: 4th place - 9 BLAIS (USA) KTM + 01:41:33.00
19th place in Stage
STAGE 12: AYOUN EL ATROUS - KAYES
484 km, including 257 against the clock, are on the menu of the 12th stage. The competitors are now leaving sand behind and entering savannah ground. Typical WRC super fast sections are back on the program with some forest sections as well.
Chris called: He's a little bummed but is still in great spirits. The bolts on the front brake caliper snapped and when he went to pull a handful of brakes, nothing was there and he slid out, hitting his head. This was within the first 30km of the 'special'. He said it's sort of a known issue/problem I guess ? He said the bolts have been coming loose when they shouldn't (they never should, right?)... It cost him about 5 minutes on time. He followed someone through the rest of the stage (can't remember whom). The other rider was very surprised that Chris kept up with him the whole way through all the trees, having only the rear brake. He's still shooting for the 3rd spot, but trying to do so without something stupid happening (crashing or a bike issue)! He will be happy to just get to the finish!
He said Ullevalseter has some issues with goats on the liason this morning. He came upon a heard crossing the road, grabbed the brakes, and slid out taking about 5 goats down with him. He had no idea what had just happened. That might have cost him a little time too. He is ok.
BRAKE CHECK FOR BLAIS
"At about 30 clicks (kilometers) in today, the front caliper mounting bolts on Chris' bike backed out and he crashed," said Doc. Edwards. "The brake locked on and tossed him into a heap. The good news is that Chris wasn't hurt, but he's pretty sore right now."
While the problem wasn't fully diagnosed prior to our call today, the good doctor could only speculate why Chris has again (it happened last year, too) suffered from front brake demons nor what the root causes could have been. Like the seasoned pro that he is, Blais quickly got out a pair of cutting pliers and removed the cables and lines thus completely removing the front brake function from his Red Bull KTM 660 Rally.
"A great thing about Chris is his ability to identify problems immediately and deal with them," Said Edwards. "He's probably the best mechanic out here amongst the elite riders and despite him getting slammed over the bars and onto the ground at 90kph (read: over 50mph) he was still able to solve a potentially ride ending problem and continue to race. Chris didn't wig out and lose his composure, he just kept on going without a front brake."
Fast thinking and faster action are a Blais trademark but this should have been a day to attack the front runners and eat into the 25+ minute deficit between he and 3rd place running David Casteu. However, a loss of over 10-minutes resulted from the impromptu brake job. Unfazed, Blais is still very much in the hunt for a podium appearance in Senegal this weekend.
Easy does it for Dakar:
Dakar Rally competitors had a chance to enjoy the scenery on Wednesday after what amounted to a rest day forced by security concerns.
STAGE 11: NEMA – AYOUN EL ATROUS
There is no timed section on today’s program, After half a day’s rest in Néma, the competitors will hit the road at 11.00 GMT for the first bike, towards Ayoun El’Atrous, still in Mauritania, on a 280-km connection section. A welcome break for those who have made it this far through the 29th edition of the Dakar. They will then get to grips with the final sprint to the Pink Lake along the ultra-quick Malian and Senegalese tracks.
Overall place: 4th place - 9 BLAIS (USA) KTM + 01:40:37.00
7th place in Stage
10:03 Chris Blais and Jean de Azevedo are both 2:30 back.
10:13 Conditions have changed at the 169km checkpoint, with the bikes moving into proper desert conditions after starting on rockier roads.
11:49 Casteu, Blais and De Azevedo are also on the leaderboard.
12:55 Fifth and sixth are Casteu and Chris Blais, losing at least four more minutes each.
Overall place: 4th place - 9 BLAIS (USA) KTM +01:34:20.00
6th place in Stage
Blais: "Today (Monday, 1/15/07) was a good day. I rode better than yesterday but I crashed like an idiot when reaching to get a drink of water. I should have been paying better attention but I'm Ok -- a little sore now, sitting here talking to you on the phone, but when I'm on the bike and racing I don't have any problems. Matt (Spencer) has been doing an awesome job on my bike and equipment and the Doc (Dr. Johnathan Edwards) is all over the place making sure that I'm taken care of and ready to go for the next stage. We really have a great team.
STAGE 9 Tichit >Néma Connection: 0 km | Special: 494 km | Connection: 3 km Total: 497 km
Searching for the route:
This big chunk of desert may seen hard to swallow. Here we are on one of the great classics of the Dakar, revisited and improved for the occasion. Landmarks are extremely few and far between – the finest navigators are going to have their say. For the less inspired, Plan B involves picking the right tire-tracks to follow. Reaching Nema in daylight is a victory in itself, for after nightfall, everything seems to take twice as long.
Overall place: 4th place - 9 BLAIS (USA) KTM +01:31:26
6th place in Stage
Chris Blais: "I hang out with the other riders and teams including the Respol (Coma) and Gauloises (Despres) teams. And we get along, no problem. I haven't experienced any negativity."
En route for the oasis
This special has several facets. The course is quite well-marked, with stony tracks at the beginning of the course then the enthusiasts will be entitled to a dose of sand in the middle of their day. Patience will be the drivers’ best ally for finding the oasis: the final track has no hidden traps, just so long as you keep your eyes peeled. The panorama that awaits the competitors is more than worth it. Backup vehicles are not allowed in Tichit.
Overall place: 5th place - 9 BLAIS (USA) KTM +00:52:53
9th place in Stage
Today a motorcycle winner Jordi Viladoms, who had seemingly gone off the radar, has surfaced. He suffered a fall and broke his arm and ankle American rider Chris Blais helped him and might have his metered time rectified, according to the authorities. (Which they did adusted his time.)
Blais deserves a lot of credit for helping a rider in need.
Chris Blais: (KTM Red Bull)
"I’m in 5th now, about 15 minutes out from 3rd. So, a podium is definitely possible for me. To get there, I just need to finish the race and keep riding the way I have been. Nobody expected an American to do well. I think I’ve been a little smarter than some of the Europeans, conserving the bike and myself. I usually do better in the second half, so I’m looking forward to the rest of the rally.
Great weather we’re having today. The sandstorm isn’t too bad yet."
Overall place: 4th place - 9 BLAIS (USA) KTM +00:35:04
3rd place in Stage
Chris Blais (USA – KTM – 3rd) Interview
All the team was quick. We arrived at CP1 in under an hour. On the special, I reached a top speed of 168 km/h. Apart from at the supply point, I didn’t see anyone at all today, I was all alone. I prefer it like that. If no-one catches up with me, that means I’m riding well. There were times when I felt really small in the middle of this immense desert. I’m happy with my day. I felt that I was very fast.
BTW - 168 kh/h = 105 mph
They are racing/riding 500 miles today!
The first 5 bikes make a breakaway
No. 4, ISIDRE ESTEVE - KTM, SUPER PRODUCTION
Spaniard Isidre Esteve is currently at the head of the race in front of Coma, Despres, Viladoms and Blais. The five bikers, all within sight of each other, have already opened up a gap of 12 km on the chasing pack, led by Portuguese rider Ruben Faria.
STAGE 6 - 01/11/2007
Tan Tan > Zouérat
Connection: 414 km | Special: 394 km | Connection: 9 km
Total: 817 km
Navigation by heading
Here’s the longest stage of the rally – by the end of the day, almost a thousand kilometers will have been clocked up! To set off on this long preliminary liaison leading to the Mauritanian border, you have to get up extremely early in the morning. Then you need to apply yourself to navigation by heading and offroad, yet more techniques for drivers and co-drivers to get to grips with again. At this stage in the rally, just one piece of advice: play for economy.
Overall place: 5th place - 9 BLAIS (USA) KTM +47'36"
5th place in Stage
It was a good day for me. I though I had ridden well, but I still lost 14 minutes. I made a slight navigational mistake just before CP2. It was a stupid way to lose time. After the night without assistance, I was obviously worried about the state of the bike. By the time I got here, the rear tire was completely bald. Today, I was thinking of Elmer Symons while I was riding. He was a good friend and often came to see me. It’s really bad. He’d been talking about doing this race for five years. With Cyril (Despres) and Marc (Coma) we spoke to all the riders to tell them to be really careful, to follow the road-book instructions and not to leave the right track, especially in the morning with a full tank and tiredness from the night before. It’s something that we professional riders should also keep in mind.
Chris called just called from the Bivouac (Chris Blais). Steve LaRoza and Chris Jones rode together today and will do so for the remainder of the race. Steve's crank shaft went out so they are replacing his motor now with one of Jonah's spares. They both made it to the finish today.
Their spares are being carried by Charlie Russeo's team (Jonah's team). They're all working together as best they can.
It sounds like Tim Hall is still out there. Chris said he came in very late last night after they all went to sleep.
Elmer's brother Philip, with translation help from Doc Jonathan Edward’s, was busy getting everything squared away in the retrieval of Elmer's body. It sounds like it is all getting taken care of. Philip was distraught but was accepting the fact that his brother has left us in doing the one thing that he loved most and racing in the one race that he's always wanted to participate in. Although brief, Elmer's dream came true for a few days before he left us.
Tomorrow is a long day for the chase/assistance vehicles - 15 hours on the road. They will not reach the bivouac until much later than the riders. Tomorrow is another long and grueling day. Keep everyone in your thoughts and prayers.
4th place overall. 9 C.BLAIS (USA) KTM 10:45:36 00:35:04
10:39 Through the 213km marker and this is the Marc Coma show. He clocks 2:01:47, nearly 13 minutes ahead of Chris Blais.
11:55 An interesting development at the 274km mark. Isidre Esteve Pujol has gone through first, followed by Casteu and Blais, with no sign of Marc Coma. We'll try to find out more...
12:45 Confusion over regarding Marc Coma. There was simply a gremlin in the technical system used to follow him. The Spaniard is still well out in front. He went through checkpoint two nearly 10 minutes ahead of Isidre Esteve Pujol.
The race is still going on! On the tracking Chris is still up in the top 5. Despres is behind Chris and it looks like Street has not made it to check point 2, but near.
5th place overall. 9 C.BLAIS KTM 00 5h50'49"000 + 08'37"00
Blais leads at CP1
No. 9, CHRIS BLAIS - KTM, SUPER PRODUCTION
79th rider to start this special stage, American Chris Blais is now virtual leader of the stage at CP1, 39" ahead of Spaniard Marc Coma.
11:53 Chris Blais continues with his relentless progress. He's quickest at the third split too, 31 seconds up on Coma.
Look at Chris go!
11:37 The leading riders are through checkpoint three, with Marc Coma quickest so far. He's 42 seconds up on Despres with Casteu 1:30 down. Rodrigues is over 10 minutes slower on this section alone and has lost 20 minutes in total today so far.
11:36 Blais started the day 18th after his clutch problem on the Saturday.
11:35 Blais is 14 seconds up on the Frenchman in the first sector and another 43 up at the second one - meaning he's gained a minute - at least - on everyone so far.
11:34 Chris Blais is Blais-ing a trail today (poor joke I know). But the Red Bull KTM rider has smashed Casteu's time at both of the opening checkpoints.
18th place overall 009 BLAIS (USA) KTM 02:42:14 00:17:07
Chris called Patty around 1:00 pm today. The bike problem he had was one of his hoses/cables got pinched and it caused his clutch to not work. He stalled the bike and couldn't get it started. The Portuguese spectators pushed him about 200 yards to get him going again. They fixed the problem so now he will just have to make up time. Patty said, Chris sounded happy and was working on his road-book for tomorrow!
He road the stage without a clutch and still did pretty good in the overall time.
Slight scare for Blais
American Chris Blais had to stop for around ten minutes after 20 km of the special section following a mechanical problem, but has got going again.
7th place overall 9 BLAIS (USA) KTM 1:27:40 0:05:33 0:00:00
Special Distance: 117 km 73 miles Liaison Distance: 347 km 216 miles Total Stage Distance: 464 km 288 miles
Blais aiming higher still
Fourth-placed in the last Dakar, Chris Blais is hoping to do even better for his third participation in the rally. The American rider is aiming for a place on the podium and will be boasting a new machine. "This bike is a lot better than the last one. I’ve been able to prepare for the Dakar by taking part in two rallies this year (finishing 10th in Morocco and 5th in Dubai). I really think the top 3 is possible", insists the 25-year old rider. However, Blais will only be able to count on himself this time: "I’m the only one in the team and will only have the support of KTM, unlike last year when we were helped by the official Repsol team".
Marc Coma (Repsol KTM, Spain) is the title holder after defeating his close rival Cyril Despres (Gauloises KTM, France) when Cyril, winner in 2005, broke a collarbone last year. Coma’s team-mates Giovanni Sala and Jordi Viladoms make up the Repsol line-up while Isidre Esteve Pujol, Frans Verhoeven and David Casteu race with Gauloises KTM. American Chris Blais, fourth last year races alone for Red Bull KTM of the USA.
Top American finished 3rd place overall in the 2007 Dakar Rally
Top American finished 4th place overall in the 2006 Dakar Rally
First American Rookie 9th place overall in the 2005 Dakar Rally
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