Dakar Rally and Desert Standout Chris Blais….
May 22, 2007 – Temecula, CA – To the victor go the spoils, and in the midst of a meteoric desert racing career, as well as a podium finish at this year’s grueling Dakar Rally, sponsors are clamoring to hook up with current and future off-road star Chris Blais. The latest deals to close are two-year pacts with KTM and Red Bull, a fitting reward for the 26-year-old rider who piloted a Red Bull-sponsored KTM 660 Rally machine to third place this past January in the ‘mother of all rallies,’ after claiming top ten finishes in the preceding two years of the race as well.
‘I’m excited to be enhancing my relationship with both KTM and Red Bull,’ said Blais. ‘Now I know I’ll have great bikes – and the energy to race ’em – for at least the next two years!’
‘All of us at KTM are very pleased to build our relationship with Chris Blais, focusing on victory in Dakar,’ said KTM Racing Director Kurt Nicoll. ‘Over the past 3 years he’s proven that he possesses the qualities of a champion. As a factory rider, Chris will continue to receive the best equipment and support that we can provide and we look to a bright future together.’
‘Chris Blais was a unanimous choice for all of us at Red Bull,’ offered Red Bull Motorsports Marketing man Dane Herron. ‘He exemplifies our culture and core values and we are very proud that he’ll continue to be an important member of our family.’
Besides enjoying what is arguably the best sponsorship package of any off-road racer in North America, Blais also regularly garners the praise of both competitors and industry veterans alike, including mentor and past Dakar teammate Scot Harden.
‘Chris has gone from being just another AMA District 37 fast guy to an elite rally racer in the space of only a couple of years,’ commented Harden, the manager and Blais’ fellow rider on the Red Bull/KTM U.S. Dakar team. ‘He definitely deserves the kind of corporate support that’s coming his way now.’
Of the upcoming Class 22 duel with Robby Bell (among a record number of other entries) in the Tecate SCORE Baja 500, Blais says, ‘I feel confident about my chances this year. I’ve been very involved developing my race bikes with KTM’s factory rally department and now going into our fourth season of working together everything feels natural. It’s like an extra shot of confidence, and every little bit helps, whether you’re headed for Dakar or taking on the Baja.’
Joining Blais on his south of the border trek on June 2nd will be top rallyist Cyril Despres and Nevada fast man David Pearson. Despres is a 2-time Dakar Rally winner and is considered by many to be Europe’s finest ‘rally-raid’ competitor. Desert specialist Pearson, 24, is a member of Nevada’s famous Pearson racing clan and he’s made the headlines recently by capturing the 2007 AMA Hare & Hound series championship title. Flying number plate 7x, the trio will join forces aboard a specially-built KTM 690 based on the factory rally bikes that Despres and Blais will pilot in the January 2008 Dakar Rally.