Archive for the ‘Dakar’ Category

Off-Road Star Blais Still Passionate About Cycles

June 12, 2009

Chris Blais has a passion for motorcycles.

Off-road motorcycle enthusiasts no doubt recognize Blais’ name from the stellar riding career he carved out for himself in the sport of desert racing.

Chris Blais

Chris Blais

Check out his scorecard:
2003 – 2nd overall at the Baja 1000
2005 – 4th overall at the Nevada 1000
2005 – 2nd place at the Terrible’s Town 250
2005 – 2nd place at the Parker 250
2005 – 4th overall at the Baja 500
2005 – 1st overall at the San Felipe 250
2005 – 4th overall at the Tunisia Rally
2005 – 9th overall at the Dakar Rally
2006 – 4th overall at the Dakar Rally
2007 – 3rd overall at the Dakar Rally

Blais, who started his career in 2001 atop a Honda, ultimately turned to riding for KTM and quickly became among the most promising riders in the United States. Then, in August 2007, Blais’ riding career came to an end when he damaged his vertebrae as the result of a motorcycle crash in the desert near Tonapah, Nev., while pre-running the Best in the Desert (BITD) Vegas to Reno race.

What is he doing now? Click here to find out.

Rally Hero Scot Harden Featured on Scorpion TV

April 29, 2009

Motorcycle rally champion Scot Harden blazed a trail to Scorpion Sports HQ last week to talk about the helmet and apparel supplier’s new XDR Collection.

Scot Harden

Scot Harden

XDR stands for “Xtreme Distance Riding” so nobody is more qualified to talk about what goes into great riding gear than Harden. During his trip to Scorpion, he took the time to point out some of the many features and benefits that differentiate the XDR Collection from ordinary gear. Fortunately, the cameras were rolling and a short video clip now appears at Scorpion’s home page, while a longer version where Scot discusses rallying with Scorpion VP Eric Anderson appears at the ScorpionNation YouTube site .

Harden is a member of the American Motorcyclist Association Motorcycle Hall of Fame. He has served as African Rally champion, two-time Dakar Rally veteran, three-time Baja 500 and Baja 1000 Overall champion, three-time ISDE medalist, U.S. Trophy Team member and two-time AMA Amateur National Off-road champion.

Scorpion XDR Commander

Scorpion XDR Commander

Last August, Harden was hired as national sales and marketing manager of Husqvarna Motorcycles NA, LLC. Prior to that he spearheaded corporate marketing strategies, product development and sales for KTM North America.

During his Hall Of Fame racing career, Harden has logged more than 200,000 off road miles that is enough to circumnavigate the entire planet eight times. I suggest anyone having a chance to talk with Scot jump at the opportunity.

Malcolm Smith is Dealernews’ Dealer of the Year

March 4, 2009

In case you missed it: Malcolm Smith Motorsports was named “Dealer of the Year” by Dealernews magazine’s Top 100 Dealer Program.malcolmsmith_2008jpg-copy

Malcolm is one of the most impressive and best-loved legends in motorcycling. As the raucous applause at the Indiana Roof Ballroom attested to, Mr. Smith and his team were more than deserving of the top prize at the 18th annual Top 100 Awards.

I had the pleasure of joining Malcolm and his family and team members at dinner following the festivities. Much to my delight, we were also joined by Bruce Brown. For those who don’t know, Bruce is a filmmaker perhaps best known for the surf film The Endless Summer (1964) and the motorcycle film On Any Sunday (1971). As Malcolm told me of On Any Sunday, “Bruce put me on the map with that movie.”

Sitting between those two, listening to an evening of stories about Steve McQueen, Hawaii, Dakar and a zany cast of characters, was perhaps the greatest treat I’ve been allowed to have during my time in the industry.

Dakar Winners – KTM’s Coma, Yamaha’s Machacek

January 17, 2009

Spanish rider Marc Coma (KTM) has won this 31st Dakar Rally, the first one to be held in

Marc Coma

Marc Coma

Argentina and Chile, with an overall time of 52hr14min33. Coma finished the rally 1hr25min38 ahead of French defending champion Cyril Despres (KTM), and 1hr38min56 ahead of France’s David Frétigné (Yamaha).

Riding a KTM 690 Rallye, Coma, 33, won the first stage and kept the overall lead through every one of the following 14 stages.

In the ATV race, Czech rider Josef Machacek (Yamaha) won the very first general standings for the quad category in history of the Dakar, 2hr34min00 ahead of Argentina’s Marcos Patronelli (Can-Am), and 7hr42min34 ahead of Polish rider Rafal Sonik (Yamaha).

Josef Machacek

Josef Machacek

The 52-year-old Machacek rode his self-built Raptor to four stage wins for the overall honors.

Stage One of Dakar 2009 began in Buenos Aires on Jan. 3. Teams and riders from 49 countries then traveled 5,903 miles over the legendary Argentina Pampas, into Patagonia, across the Andes mountains, and across hundreds of miles of desert and sand dunes to the completion of Stage 14 back in the Argentinean capital on Jan. 17.

OEMs participating in the motorcycle division included KTM, Honda, Yamaha, Gas-Gas, BMW, Kawasaki, Sherco, Beta, Husqvarna, Suzuki and China’s Jincheng.

KTM puts a lot of effort, and funding, into the Dakar competition. More than 55 percent of the 235 motorcycle competitors that started rode atop KTM.

About 30 quads started the rally. Brands competing in the ATV division included Yamaha, Suzuki, Polaris, BRP’s Can-Am and KTM.

Coma (ESP)…KTM…52hr14min33
Despres (FRA)…KTM…+1hr25min38
Frétigné (FRA)…Yamaha…+1hr38min56
Casteu (FRA)…KTM…+2hr17min54
Rodrigues (PRT)…KTM…+2hr22min11
Ullevalseter (NRT)…KTM…+2hr25min02
Viladoms (ESP)…KTM…+2hr28min29
Verhoeven (NLD)…KTM…+2hr50min39
Knuiman (NLD)…KTM…+3hr22min41
Goncalves (PRT)…KTM…+4hr12min42

Machacek (CZE)…Yamaha…68hr22min06
Patronelli (ARG)…Can-Am…+2hr34min00
Sonik (POL)…Yamaha…+7hr42min34
Deltrieu (FRA)…Polaris…+11hr13min31
Brazina (CZE)…Yamaha…+15hr59min51
Avendano (ESP)…Suzuki…+16hr44min15
Carlini (FRA)…Polaris…+25hr10min45
Kraft (FRA)…Polaris…+26hr12min39
Pottier (FRA)…Can-Am+…40hr20min38
Pena (ESP)…Yamaha…+46hr46min05

Coma and Despres show their final positions in the 2009 Dakar Rally / Chaco

Coma and Despres show their final positions in the 2009 Dakar Rally / Chaco

DAKAR – Riders Return to Argentina

January 15, 2009

Today’s Dakar Stage 12 brought competitors 312 miles from Fiambala to La Rioja, Argentina. The distance included a 157-mile special stage and miles of tough to navigate

Coma navigates the dunes / Chaco

Coma navigates the dunes / Chaco

white sand dunes. You’ll recall from Tuesday’s post that Wednesday’s Stage 11 was cancelled due to fog in the Andes.

In motorcycles, Frenchman Cyril Desprès (KTM) crossed the finish 1min23 ahead of Spain’s Marc Coma (KTM), and 9min47 ahead of Spaniard Gerard Farres Guell (KTM). Coma (KTM) still has an overall lead in the rally, 1hr29min48 ahead of Cyril Desprès.

In the ATV race, Argentine Marcos Patronelli (Can-Am) won his third special stage of this Dakar, 35min56 ahead of Czech rider Josef Machacek (Yamaha), and 36min02 ahead of Frenchman Hubert

Patronelli's 800cc Can-Am

Patronelli's 800cc Can-Am

Deltrieu (Polaris). However, Machacek is still in the lead in the overall standings 1hr54min38 ahead of Patronelli and 7hr06min17 ahead of Poland’s Rafal Sonik (Yamaha).

Coma (ESP)…KTM…47hr51min30
Desprès (FRA)…KTM…+1hr29min48
Fretigne (FRA)…Yamaha…+1hr33min55
Casteu (FRA)…KTM…+2hr16min13
Rodrigues (PRT)…KTM…+2hr24min04
Ullevalseter (NOR)…KTM…+2hr24min07
Viladoms (ESP)…KTM…+2hr27min57
Verhoeven (NLD)…KTM…+2hr45min14
Knuiman (NLD)…KTM…+3hr14min49
Goncalves (PRT)…Honda…+3hr53min16

Machacek (CZE)…Yamaha…63hr12min11
Patronelli (ARG)…Can-Am…+1hr54min38
Sonik (POL)…Yamaha…+7hr06min17
Deltrieu (FRA)…Polaris…+11hr11min12
Brazina (CZE)…Yamaha…+15hr41min57
Avendano (ESP)…Suzuki…+16hr44min18
Carlini (FRA)…Polaris…+24hr37min31
Kraft (FRA)…Polaris…+25hr05min29
Pottier (FRA)…Can-Am…+39hr44min00
Van Gastel (NLD)…Yamaha…+45hr30min31

Dakar – Out of the Andes, Into the Desert

January 13, 2009

Dakar participants spent Monday (Stage 9) and Tuesday (Stage 10) traversing sand dunes, rock-strewn high desert and shooting through valleys along fast dirt tracks. KTM motorcycles and Yamaha quads continue to set the pace.

Jordi Viladoms / Papp

Jordi Viladoms / Papp

The weather forecast for Wednesday (Stage 11) announces heavy fog on the whole route, and since the timing of the stage cannot be altered due to the crossing of the Andes and the crossing of the border between Chile and Argentina, the organizers of the Dakar have decided to cancel the special stage between Copiapo and Fiambala. The participants will travel to the Fiambala bivouac in liaison.

On Monday, competitors traveled an 55-mile connection and 279-mile special stage from La Serena to Copiapo, Chile.

In the motorcycle race, Dutchman Frans Verhoeven (KTM) picked up his second stage victory of the rally, 3min09 ahead of Frenchman David Frétigné on his 450cc Yamaha, and 3min40 in front of local star, Chilean Francisco “Chaleco” Lopez (KTM). Spaniard Marc Coma (KTM) arrived in fourth.

In the ATV race, Czech Josef Machacek (Yamaha) achieved his fourth stage victory on this Dakar, arriving 39 seconds ahead of Argentine Marcos Patronelli (Can-Am) and 17min26 ahead of Frenchman Hubert Deltrieu (Polaris).

Jonah Street

Jonah Street

U.S.-based KTM rider Jonah Street was forced to withdraw from the rally at Stage 9 after injuring his wrist during Sunday’s Stage 8. Street had a stellar run going, winning Stage 5 and never slower than fifth position in the overall standings during the first eight stages.

Today riders braved a 296-mile special stage and 12-mile connection route that led them out of and back into Copiapo. It was a route that had them traversing a low altitude of 2,133 feet and a high altitude of 7,874 feet.

Spanish motorcyclist Jordi Viladoms (KTM) won the stage, finishing 1hr06min ahead of Franco-Malian rider Alain Duclos (KTM) and 2hr07min ahead of Norway’s Pal Anders Ullevalseter (KTM). Overall rally leader Marc Coma (KTM) was seventh in today’s stage.

In quads, Argentina’s Marcos Patronelli (Can-Am) won his second stage victory on this Dakar, 28min ahead of the solid leader in the general rankings, Czech Republic’s Josef Machacek (Yamaha). Only six quads crossed the finish line as of 10pm local time.

Coma (ESP)…KTM…43hr52min30
Fretigne (FRA)…Yamaha…+1hr24min50
Despres (FRA)…KTM…+1hr31min11
Viladoms (ESP)…KTM…+1hr56min40
Rodrigues (PRT)…KTM…+2hr05min38
Casteu (FRA)…KTM…+2hr07min45
Lopez (CHL)…KTM…+2hr22min23
Verhoeven (NLD)…KTM…+2hr25min34
Ullevalseter (NOR)…KTM…+2hr25min51
Knuiman (NLD)…KTM…+3hr04min25

Marcos Patronelli / La Calle

Marcos Patronelli / La Calle

Duclos (FRA)…KTM…+12hr44min17

Machacek (CZE)…Yamaha…57hr53min17
Patronelli (ARG)…Can-Am…+2hr30min34
Sonik (POL)…Yamaha…+5hr14min46
Brazina (CZE)…Yamaha…+10hr03min14
Deltrieu (FRA)…Polaris…+11hr11min06
Kraft (FRA)…Polaris…+19hr38min50

So far, 86 motorcyclists and 11 ATV riders have withdrawn from the rally.

Dakar – Coma Still Leads Cyclists, ATV Lead Changes

January 11, 2009

Marc Coma carves through the dunes on his way to Chile / Barreira

Dakar competitors were back on the trail again Sunday following a rest day on Saturday. Completion of Stage 8 signifies the 15-day rally is now more than half finished.

On Friday, competitors traveled a 247-mile connection route and a 260-mile special stage from Mendoza, Argentina to Valparaiso, Chile.

Chilean Francisco Lopez (KTM) won the stage, 3min57 ahead of Spaniard Marc Coma (KTM) and 5min21 ahead of France’s Cyril Despres (KTM).

In the quad race, Argentine Marcos Patronelli (Can-Am) won the seventh stage, 14min01 ahead of Uruguayan Luis Henderson (Suzuki) and 20min22 in front of Poland’s Rafal Sonik (Yamaha).

Competitors spent Sunday traveling 222 connection miles and a 183-mile special stage from Valparaiso to La Serena, Chile.

French motorcyclist Cyril Despres (KTM) clinched his second stage win in this edition of the Dakar. He finished the stage 1min49 ahead of Spaniard Marc Coma (KTM) and 2min56 ahead of Chile’s Chaleco López (KTM).

In quads, Czech rider Josef Machacek (Yamaha) clinched his third stage victory, 2min51 ahead of Argentina’s Marcos Patronelli (Can-Am) and 7min00 ahead of the French rider Hubert Deltrieu (Polaris).

Coma (ESP)…KTM…30hr33min15
Fretigne (FRA)…Yamaha…+1hr06min28
Despres (FRA)…KTM…+1hr33min34
Street (USA)…KTM…+1hr39min07
Ullevalseter (NOR)…KTM…+1hr42min24
Viladoms (ESP)…KTM…+1hr55min42
Lopez (CHL)…KTM…+2hr00min38
Rodrigues (PRT)…KTM…+2hr03min57
Casteu (FRA)…KTM…+2hr06min56
Verhoeven (NLD)…KTM…+2hr22min17

Machacek (CZE)…Yamaha…41hr11min25
Patronelli (ARG)…Can-Am…+2hr30min23
Sonik (POL)…Yamaha…+4hr48min30
Avendano (ESP)…Suzuki…+5hr46min31
Pottier (FRA)…Can-Am…+9hr36min36
Brazina (CZE)…Yamaha…+9hr42min47
Deltrieu (FRA)…Polaris…+10hr01min30
Carlini (FRA)…Polaris…+14hr22min11
Pena (ESP)…Yamaha…+15hr19min22
Kraft (FRA)…Polaris…+16hr26min52

Seventy-three motorcyclists and 11 quad riders have withdrawn from the rally after eight stages.

KTM, Yamaha Still Lead Dakar

January 8, 2009

Spaniard Marc Coma on the throttle and in the lead / Papp

On Wednesday, the Dakar rally led participants along a 160-mile connection and 314-mile special stage from Neuguen to San Rafael, Argentina.

U.S. motorcyclist Jonah Street (KTM) won stage 5, for his first stage victory on the Dakar. He won with a 7min34 lead over Chile’s Francisco “Chaleco” Lopez (KTM) and an 11min12 lead over French rider David Frétigné (Yamaha). Spanish rider Marc Coma (KTM) lost 15min due to a flat tire.

In the ATV race, Spain’s Joan Manuel Gonzalez (Yamaha) won stage 5 – his second stage win – with a 24min06 lead over Czech Republic’s Josef Machacek (Yamaha) and a 1hr11min38 lead over Italian driver Marcos Patronelli (Can-Am).

On Thursday, in a 6th stage shortened due to the difficult nature of the previous day’s stage and a flooded river ford, the bikers set off this morning from San Rafael on a 111-mile route from San Rafael to the village of La Junta at the foot of the Andes.

Motorcyclist Cyril Despres grabbed his first special stage victory this year. For once free of tire trouble, the Frenchman beat off his rival Marc Coma, who finished second and only 2min09 behind Despres.

Riding a Yamaha, Spaniard Joan Manuel Gonzalez rode Can-Am in 2006 and 2007/ Solo Quad

Now atop a Yamaha, Spaniard Joan Manuel Gonzalez rode Can-Am in 2006 and 2007/ Solo Quad

In quads, Czech rider Josef Machacek (Yamaha) won the 6th stage 10min04 ahead of Spaniard Joan Manuel Gonzalez (Yamaha) and 15min14 in front of Frenchman Hubert Deltrieu (Polaris). Still, in the general standings, Gonzalez (Yamaha) leads the race 32min09 ahead of Czech rider Machacek and 1hr20min25 in front of former leader Christophe Declerck.

1. Coma (ESP)…KTM…23hr43min41
2. Street (USA)…KTM…+40min29
3. Fretigne (FRA)…Yamaha…+47min30
4. Viladoms (ESP)…KTM…+1hr09min48
5. Ullevalseter (NOR)…KTM…+1hr13min13
6. Rodrigues (PRT)…KTM…+1hr27min03
7. Despres (FRA)…KTM…+1hr33min59
8. Verhoeven (NLD)…KTM…+1hr36min05
9. Casteu (FRA)…KTM…+1hr40min56
10. Knuiman (NLD)…KTM…+1hr46min56

1. Gonzalez (ESP)…Yamaha…31hr38min47
2. Machacek (CZE)…Yamaha…+32min09
3. Declerckk (FRA)…Yamaha…+1hr20min25
4. Sonik (POL)…Yamaha…+3hr19min42
5. Patronelli (ARG)…Can-Am…+3hr29min09
6. Avendano (ESP)…Suzuki…+5hr51min54
7. Henderson (URY)…Suzuki…+7hr25min17
8. Brazina (CZE)…Yamaha…+7hr49min42
9. Kraft (FRA)…Polaris…+8hr30min59
10. Pottier (FRA)…Can-Am…+9hr21min44

Fifty-five motorcycles and six quads have now dropped out of the rally after six stages.

KTM, Yamaha Continue Dakar Domination

January 6, 2009

Spain’s Marc Coma keeping his KTM steady through a stream / Chaco

The fourth day of riding is over for the motorcycle and ATV competitors still taking part in the 15-day, 5,902-mile Dakar Rally in Argentina and Chile.

STAGE 3, Monday, Jan. 6
Monday’s course led the competitors from Puerto Madryn to Jacobacci along an 89-mile connection and a 342-mile special stage.

Spanish motorcyclist Marc Coma (KTM) easily won this 3rd stage, 17min49 ahead of his teammate and countryman Jordi Viladoms (KTM) and Norway’s Pal-Anders Ullevalseter (KTM), both tying in 2nd place. The third fastest time of the stage goes to France’s David Casteu (KTM) checking in 18min16 behind the winner. Coma now has a 39min11 lead over Frenchman David Frétigné (Yamaha) and a 41min14 lead over Dutchman Frans Verhoeven (KTM).

In the ATV portion of the rally, Czech rider Josef Machacek (Yamaha) won this third stage 1min47 ahead of France’s Christophe Declerck (Yamaha), winner of the first two special stages and 10min55 ahead of Spain’s Joan Manuel Gonzalez (Yamaha). In the overall rankings, Christophe Declerck nevertheless remains the firm leader of the rally raid with a 30min37 lead over the day’s winner and 45min45 over Spain’s Gonzalez.

STAGE 4, Tuesday, Jan. 7
Tuesday’s course included an 18-mile connection and 285-mile special stage between Jacobacci and Neuquen.

Spaniard Marc Coma (KTM) finished this fourth day 1min17 ahead of Frenchman Cyril Despres (KTM), who rode an excellent race having started in 48th place this morning. Third place went to American Jonah Street (KTM). As a result, in the general standings, Coma now has a lead of 42min57 over Street, the new 2nd place rider, and 43min42 over Frenchman David Frétigné (Yamaha), placed 3rd.

Spain's Joan Manuel Gonzalez atop his Yamaha quad / Reuters

Spain's Joan Manuel Gonzalez atop his Yamaha quad / Reuters

In quads, Spaniard Joan Manuel Gonzalez (Yamaha) won the 4th stage – his first success at the Dakar – 16min18 ahead of France’s Christophe Declerck (Yamaha) and 18min59 in front of Frenchman Eric Carlini (Polaris). In the general standings, Christophe Declerck still holds a solid lead, 31min27 ahead of the day’s winner, Gonzalez, the new 2nd place rider, and 49min34 in front of Czech Josef Machacek (Yamaha).


1. Coma (ESP)…KTM…14hr41min21
2. Street (USA)…KTM…+42min57
3. Fretigne (FRA)…Yamaha…+43min42
4. Viladoms (ESP)…KTM…+55min57
5. Ullevalseter (NOR)…KTM…+58min29
6. Knuiman (NLD)…KTM…+1hr09min01
7. Czachor (POL)…KTM…+1hr14min51
8. Rodrigues (PRT)…KTM…+1hr23min04
9. Verhoeven (NLD)…KTM…+1hr33min53
10. Vinters (LVA)…KTM…+1hr36min59

1. Declerck (FRA)…Yamaha…19hr14min51
2. Gonzalez (ESP)…Yamaha…+31min27
3. Machacek (CZE)…Yamaha…+49min34
4. Sonik (POL)…Yamaha…+1hr32min50
5. Carlini (FRA)…Polaris…+2hr20min41
6. Patronelli (ARG)…Can-Am…+2hr40min26
7. Kraft (FRA)…Polaris…+3hr17min19
8. Pottier (FRA)…Can-Am…+3hr37min31
9. Avendano (ESP)…Suzuki…+4hr10min42
10. Brazina (CZE)…Yamaha…+4hr28min17

So far, after four days, 35 motorcyclists and one ATV have withdrawn from the rally.

Polaris Shows Dakar Team

January 5, 2009

This morning Polaris sent over some pics of its four-man Dakar team, organized by Polaris France.polarisdakar13

French racer Hubert Deltrieu leads the team. He is accompanied by Italian racer Pietro Fogliani and French racers Eric Carlini and Betty Kraft. Kraft is one of only three women competing in this year’s Dakar.

The Polaris team chose the 2009 Outlaw 525 IRS for this grueling race. The Polaris France team was 30 minutes behind the leader after Stage 2.