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2005 Optic 2000 Rally Tunisia, Africa
Christopher’s Interviews

Chris finished 4th place overall, with head injuries

At the podium Andy Grider 3rd place overall

April 7th, day 5 Chris Blais  3rd place  3rd overall

KTM/Gauloises Bikes Chris and Andy bikes

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Christopher laughing and having fun

Chris out in the open African desert

Chris coming in from one of the stages.

Chris and Andy relaxing and studying.

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Helicopter watching Andy Grider

Chris in stage 2

Chris got 5th place - Stage 1 (012.25) Optic 2000 Rally Tunisia

Chris bike 4  GO!!!!  - Optic 2000 Rally Tunisia 2005

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Chris back in Tunisia Africa racing the Optic 2000 Tunisia Rally 2005

Andy Grider in the Optic 2000 Rally Tunisia (stage 1)

Chris and Andy arrived in Tunisia Africa

Chris Blais and Andy Grider in Tunisia

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 Christopher’s interviews after each stage (Gauloises KTM)

April 3, 2005 Chris Blais 5th place (0’12.25)

“You didn’t want to make a mistake on that special because it was slippery with some big cliffs on the side! I just used the 4 kms to get used to the bike again as it has been 4 months since I rode a rallye machine. Now I’m looking forward to the real racing!”

April 5, 2005 Chris Blais 2nd place (10’12)

“I tried to ride as smoothly as possible and not make any mistakes and in the end only had one little fall at the top of ‘the’ slippery climb. The only other problem I had was my GPS packing up, which made it difficult to read my road book. In the end I tucked in behind Carlo and followed him to the line. The important thing today was not to lose too much time – I’m keeping my eye firmly on that podium finish!”

April 6, 2005 Chris Blais 3rd place (6’20)   2nd overall (2’10)

“I got lost twice but I don’t think I was the only one! At least I didn’t have any crashes – though I did get stuck three times. You know things aren’t going too badly when you get to a CP and Cyril (Despres) hasn’t arrived yet. Overall I’m pretty pleased with how my day went.”

April 7, 2005 Chris Blais  3rd (at 14’04)  3rd overall (18’14)

“I started second this morning and Cyril (Despres) came past me pretty early on. I didn’t bother trying to stay with him – I’m still new to the sand here and wanted to ride at my own pace. Everything was going well and then about 50 km after the refueling I hit a sand bar and came off the bike – fortunately I landed away from it and didn’t bend anything. After that there were a lot of sand tongues on the course and it was pretty hard work. Third on the day is fine by me – my goal is just to get in every evening.”

April 8, 2005  Chris Blais   4th (8’32)   3rd overall (24’46)

“I got off to a slow start – I was still quite sore after yesterday’s crash. I saw Andy (Grider) coming up behind me and 20 kms before refueling I waved him past. After refueling I couldn’t maintain the pace and let him go – I wanted to give my body a chance to recover and be in good shape for tomorrow. Everybody is telling me it will be hard but I’m looking forward to it – every day here is different.”

April 9, 2005 Chris Blais 8th (39’52)   3rd overall (1.01’52)

“I can’t remember much, so it must have been a big crash – the first time I have ever knocked myself out and the first time I have ever needed stitches. Fortunately it wasn’t far from the end and I was able to ride in. The bike’s front wheel is pretty buckled and the rear end isn’t looking too good, but it runs.”
 

Phone call home: Chris was leading today's stage (time adjusted) and was having a great ride. They only had about 15km to go (10 miles) and he had a crash. He is ok but received 5 stitches to his chin. He was knocked out for quite a while (almost 1/2 hour).

Today at the rally there were VIP people who came to see the race (sponsors, media, etc). These VIP's were in cars and were allowed out onto the course to see the race. Unfortunately, there was 1 car stuck on the course on the other side of a rise. The first 3 bikes (Cyril, Carlo, Andy) came up over the rise and had to swerve, barely missing the car. Chris came up over the rise, also swerved missing the car but then hit a sand-bar which sent him tumbling. He states he wasn't going that fast at that point, it was all in the way he landed. He doesn't remember much, in fact 2 other riders told him that he gave them "thumbs up" but he doesn't remember that. Luckily, there were medics very close by and stitched him up. Believe it or not, he still finished today's stage! They didn't want to let him continue but he argued his way and said "I have to finish".

As of today, Chris is still in 3rd overall and Andy is only 2 minutes behind him. He states he will just ride smart the last 2 days and whether it's him or Andy on the podium, he will be happy with that! They are working on Chris' bike now, repairing the forks (fork covers were completely bent) and some other minor things. And after all that he stated he was still having "fun" with his new European friends...

April 10, 2005 Chris Blais 3rd (10’57) 4th overall (1.12’49)

“I’m made a slow start this morning as I wasn’t feeling too great after yesterday’s crash and my back brake wasn’t working too well. But then we got on to a fast piste and I started to feel better on the bike and attacked a bit harder, moving up to fourth place by CP1. I was really worried that I wouldn’t be able to ride today so I am glad to have made it to the finish.”
 

April 11, 2005 Chris Blais 4th (11’49)   4th overall (1.23’48)

“My head is still hurting but I am really happy to be at the finish. A little bit disappointed not to be on the podium because of my crash, but relieved that it wasn’t worse. Like Andy, I learned a lot here – the most important thing I learned was to expect the unexpected. I will stay in Europe now and do some testing and hopefully be back on another rally-raid soon.”

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Chris Blais
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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Christopher Blais
Apple Valley, CA. 92307
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