The following is a release from KTM –
After a punishing five day Dakar-style desert challenge held near Primm, Nevada, and in Dumont Dunes, two riders and an alternate have been chosen to represent the Red Bull KTM U.S. Dakar team. They are Kellon Walch, Chris Blais and Andy Grider (as the alternate) for the 2005 Dakar Rally. Scot Harden will serve double duty as the team manager and as the third rider on the roster for 2005.
The six riders who accepted the challenge Andy Grider, Casey McCoy, Chris Blais, Jonah Street, Kellon Walch and Kenny Bartram participated in a series of exhausting Rally-like simulations. The challenges included navigation exercises, a simulated 500-mile-long Rally stage, a series of competitions in the dunes culminating in a 90-minute Grand Prix of Dumont Dunes finale.
“Someone was looking out for us and the riders this week,” said Joe Barker, the Red Bull KTM Dakar team co-manager. “Last week we were told temperatures near Death Valley had risen to 120 to 128 degrees. It was still hot out there, but the top temperature had only reached 103 degrees.”
Harden added, “These guys showed so much heart and determination. No one quit, no one whined, and a competition like this would break most riders. We put them through the ringer.”
Observing the riders throughout the day was the special panel of judges assembled to select the team. The judging panel included the legendary Malcolm Smith, Danny LaPorte, Jimmy Lewis and Joe Barker. Harden participated alongside the riders to get a birds-eye view of how the competitors were doing. When all was said and done, Walch, Blais and Grider finished in the top three.