The following is from the KTM Red Bull team...
Due to the tragic death Monday of Australia's Andy Caldectott #10, all Dakar Rally motorcycle competitors completed the stage to Kayes but they had agreed not to compete today [yesterday... Editor]. After a pre-ride moment of silence, all riders elected to simply ride the 333 km stage together and use the time to reflect on the loss of a valiant competitor and friend.
With most of the Dakar now behind him, Chris Blais #9 continues to ride confidently and he looks forward to the difficult final stages of his 2006 rally. He had some interesting insights about the complexion of the event thus far.
"Besides the dust, wind, rocks and dunes I am seeing an amazing number of animals on the course. Not so much during the specials but in the liaison stages. All sorts of animals: camels, cows, sheep, and lots of 'em!" said Blais "It's as if the liaisons are more treacherous than the specials. On the way into Kiffa I'm sure I saw at least 50 dead cows between the end of the special and the bivouac."
"So far my KTM has run very well and I haven't suffered from the navigation errors that many of my competitors have. I've watched the mistakes they're making and patience is something that is in short supply this year," Blais reflected. "I saw so many crashes on Stage 9 and most looked like riders, even very experienced riders, just wouldn't wait to pass slower riders when the conditions allowed. It was a long, long stage but despite thick dust and no visibility guys would just launch off the course and blast across who knows what to overtake another rider. It was crazy."
Stage 9 featured an inverted, reverse order start. Faster riders started from the back of the field - slowest riders started first.