Rally wrap up
December 31 Racers embark from Lisbon in Stage One
January 1 Still in Spain, Stage Two to Malaga
January 2 Riders cross the Mediteranean to Morocco
January 3 Chris Blais and Andy Girder hang tough for Red Bull KTM
January 4 Bivouac in Tan Tan
January 5 Into the desert – heads up for the mine fields
January 6 Grider out – Team Red Bull KTM looks to Blais
January 7 Sand, sand, sand – lost, found, lost, found
January 8 Rest day – time for a little overdue laundry catchup
January 10 Segment cancelled; Dakar looms closer
January 11 The terrain changes
January 12 Five thousand miles behind them, the riders near the finish
January 13 Blais finishes 4th overall
January 14 An abreviated Dakar pauses in a final remembrance
January 11, 2006
STAGE 11 - Kayes to Bamako
Total distance: 705km
special test 231km
BACK TO BAMAKO
After a day of riding and reflection in honor of fallen rider, Andy Caldecott (#10), the Dakar field was back in action on the challenging terrain of Mali. For Red Bull KTM pilot, Chris Blais (#9), the scene reminded him of riding much closer to home, in Baja California. The mix of vegetation twisty roads, huts, people and animals gave the day a Baja feel.
The weather now is considerably warmer than the colder scene further north in Morocco and with so many days in the saddle, keeping things moving in the right direction - whether mechanical or physical - becomes more and more difficult with each passing kilometer.
REPSOL BOSS JORDI ARILLIA
The man responsible for substantial support of Blais and the Red Bull KTM team is Jordi Arillia. Today he took a few minutes to explain what drives REPSOL efforts in the Dakar.
"Repsol loves the rally and working through difficult challenges as a team. It is our goal to build partnership to develop teams such as our Repsol Junior Team as well as with Chris Blais and the Red Bull KTM team," said Arillia.
When asked why Repsol chose to associate with the America team he explains "We were first approached by Heinz Kinigadner about a colaboration and we recognized a good fit. We’ve known Joe Barker from previous Dakar’s and we like the America style, too."
Since the beginning of the 2006 Dakar Rally, Repsol team manager, Jordi Arcarons has been a guiding light for both the Repsol Jr team as well as the Red Bull KTM team. Thus far, his help has been invaluable.
"Jordi has many years of competing in the Dakar and his knowledge of this form of racing is invaluable," said Red Bull KTM’s Joe Barker. "Each night he works with Chris to foresee the dangers, edit the roadbook and prepare for the next stage. He is a wonderful friend to all of us and we have developed a very strong bond. Just like family."
"After so many years in Africa, Jordi Arcarons knows more about the people, the land and the situation better than his own home. It is his home." Insists Arillia. It is our hope to continue to build a relationship with Chris Blais and the American team. And the only way that an American rider will make it to the winners podium is with more experience, more training. We hope to be part of that success."
MORE THAN RACING
"Rally is important to Repsol and I know that after a disaster such as Andy’s death this week, it is hard for some to understand," said Arillia. "Yesterday I was back in Spain and when you are away it is easy to find fault with such danger. However, when you are here in Africa, in the bivouac with the riders and teams, with almost 2000 people together you realize that the Dakar is much more than just racing. It is one of the last true adventures in the world!"
TOMORROW - STAGE 12
First bikes off the line about 3:40am. Blais will rise at 2am head to bivouac. His kit is already packed for action and he’ll need every bit of preparation to see him through a long 14+ hour day on his KTM.
"The longest stage of the rally is tomorrow [stage 12} and the main challenge will be no assistance for the competitors," said Barker. "Chris is in very good shape. His bike continues performing well and we’re beginning to see a little light at the end of the tunnel. Our entire team is doing very well, holding together."
Waiting for the next two stages, to Labhé, Guinea, and to Tambacounda, Senegal, the riders are about to face a long marathon stage. No assistance will be sent to Labhè, so all the riders will count only on their own energies – a good reason to go easy on tires, engines, and the entire bike.
Just one year ago, January 11, 2005, in the stage between Atar and Kiffa of the 27th Dakar, we lost Fabrizio Meoni. Much more than an unforgettable Champion.
Rankings : 11th stage: Kayes to Bamako
Special: 231 km
1. Duclos (KTM), + 03:16:40h
2. Coma (Repsol KTM), + 01:27
3. Street (KTM), + 06:39
4. Blais (Red Bull USAKTM), + 08:24
5. De Azevedo (KTM), + 09:36
6. De Gavardo (Repsol KTM), + 10:04
7. Vinters (KTM), + 10:44
8. Viladoms (Repsol KTM), + 12:23
9. Despres (Gauloises KTM), + 13:04
10. Rodrigues (YAMAHA), + 13:38
11. Faria (KTM), + 14:20
12. Ullevalseter (KTM), + 15:01
13. Sala (Repsol KTM), + 15:24
14. Goncalves (HONDA), + 36:30
15. Verhoeven (YAMAHA), + 18:24
16. Farres Guell (YAMAHA), + 22:00
17. Czachor (KTM), + 22:46
18. Fretigne (YAMAHA), +23:18
19. Rivera (HKTM), + 30:06
20: Marchini (YAMAHA), + 31:55
22. Gau (Gauloises KTM), + 36:45
1. Coma (Repsol KTM), 42:07:22 h
2. Despres (Gauloises KTM), 42:41:46 h, + 34:24
3. Sala (Repsol KTM), 43:14:23 h, + 01:07:01
4. Ullevalseter (KTM), 43:48:38 h, + 01:41:16 h
5. De Gavardo (Repsol KTM), 43:51:14 h, + 01:43:52h, Penalty: 01.00:00 h
6. Blais (Red Bull USAKTM), 44:13:28 h, + 02:06:06 h
7. Duclos (KTM), 45:45:15 h, + 03:37:53 h
8. De Azevedo (KTM), 46:13:06 h, + 04:05:44 h
9. Rodrigues (YAMAHA), 46:14:00 h, + 04:06:38 h
10. Bethys (HONDA), 47:28:52 h, +05:21:30h
11. Vinters (KTM), 48:25:00 h, 06:17:38 h
12. Farres Guell (YAMAHA), 48:33:06 h, + 06:25:44 h, Penalty: 30:00
13. Gau (Gauloises KTM), 48:44:53 h, + 06:37:31 h
14. Czachor (YAMAHA), 49:13:12 h, +07:05:50 h
15. Viladoms (Repsol KTM), 49:18:19 h, + 07:10:57 h, Penalty: 40:00
16. Fretigne (YAMAHA), 50:36:07 h, + 08:28:45 h
17. Marchini (YAMAHA), 50:57:44 h, + 08:50:22 h, Penalty: 01:00:00h
18. Street (KTM), 51:30:46 h, + 09:23:24 h
19. Stanovnik (KTM), 51:33:28 h, + 09:26:06 h, Penalty: 30:00
20. Devedija (YAMAHA), 56:01:51 h, + 13:54:29 h