DAKAR UPDATE ? STAGE 15 & 16
The 2005 Dakar Rally is now over and a KTM “Blue Rider” has been crowned. From the French KTM-Gauloises Team, Frenchman Cyril Despres has won. It is a bittersweet victory for him. ‘I am very happy to have won,’ claimed Cyril Despres. ‘But I believe I won?t cope with what I have accomplished for yet another few weeks. At the moment I?m just relieved and satisfied that I could keep my promise which Fabrizio and I had given each other during the test runs in Tunisia. We wanted a ‘blue’ rider to stand on top of the podium in Dakar. We wanted to do this for Richard (Sainct). Now that I have managed it, the victory is also dedicated to Fabrizio.’
Stage 15 saw the riders travel from Tambacounda to Dakar in a stage that held two liaison stages totaling 344km, while the Special was 225km long. It was the last Special where riders could shorten their deficit on the leaders, and possibly move up one position. All U.S. Red Bull KTM Dakar riders kept their cool and finished in good standings. Team Manager, Scot Harden rounded up his day in the 21st position, while teammate Kellon Walch, came in 32nd. Chris Blais had the best finish of the American team as he completed his day in the 10th spot. Scot is 17th, Kellon is 22nd and Chris is in the 9th overall position.
Stage 16; the final chapter of the 2005 Dakar Rally and Kellon Walch completed it in grand style! The first time Rally racer won the 31km Special fifty-two seconds ahead of KTM veteran, Isidre Esteve Pujol.
The KTMPress site states, “The debut of the American factory riders Chris Blais and Kellon Walch was very promising. Scot Harden, team manager and rider, has obviously found two diamonds which have undergone some major grinding in their first desert rally. The young rookies from the US would like to return. ‘It is the toughest race that I have ever participated in,’ explained Kellon Walch. ‘But I?ve got to admit that I also had a lot of fun. I had no problems concerning my physical condition and navigation got easier with every new stage. But most important of all is that all three of us have reached Dakar. Everything went very well for us.’
His team manager seems to think alike. ‘To reach Dakar was our most important goal,’ stated Scot Harden. ‘Chris and Kellon were further able to rank in excellent positions. We have worked very hard here and we have learned a lot. Therefore, I?d like to claim that we have accomplished the first part of our three-year plan. Next year we?ll ride for a place on the podium. We?ll come back here!’
The beginning of the loop Special around the famed Lac Rose saw the riders? line up in rows of twenty and roared through their last stage of the 2005 Dakar Rally. Team Manager, Scot Harden finished his day in the 28th position, while young Chris Blais completed the stage in 8th. Scot accomplished a huge dream of his by concluding the rally in the 17th overall position. Congratulations, Scot! First-time rider, Chris Blais finished in 9th overall, claiming the prestigious title of “Top American”. We will see him in the 2006 edition of the Dakar Rally.
Congratulations to the U.S. Red Bull Dakar Team and all KTM team members for their countless hours of contribution to the Dakar Rally. Your success is well earned.
God Speed Richard Sainct, Jos?anuel Perez, and Fabrizio Meoni.