This past weekend, Chris Blais ran a solo effort and embarked upon the infamous Baja 1000 as a training exercise for the 2006 Dakar Rally. The 22 year-old began his 709 mile journey beginning and ending in Ensenada, Mexico, racing on a specially prepared KTM LC4 620 Rally motorcycle in the toughest Baja to date.Blais pre-ran the Baja course for two weeks preparing for the grinding stress of speed, sleep deprivation, mental strain and fatigue that riders face while competing in marathon off-road events. A team of mechanics, pit crews and doctors monitored Blais to ensure that he maintained a steady mental and physical condition throughout his 22 hour trial. He finished fourth in the pro motorcycle class, while other top competitors raced the Baja with three or four man teams.Talented, tough and also preparing for the 2006 Dakar Rally is Andy Grider. Grider was part of the KTM Dakar Challenge held two years ago to choose the American Red Bull KTM Dakar Team and was selected as the alternate. Grider has competed along side Cyril Despres in the Tunisia Rally and finished on the podium. He will be replacing Kellon Walch, last years' Dakar rider who placed 22nd overall. Walch has been plagued with serious injuries and requires rest to regain his overall health. Walch remains an important part of the team and is already scheduled to compete in European Rallies next year.Team Manager Joe Barker said, "The goals of the Red Bull KTM U.S. Dakar Team are to finish on the podium. We now have two years under our belt. With the first rate and professional support and guidance of KTM, we have enough experience and tools in our bag to make a move on the podium. We have proven that we can endure and finish the event in the top ten."Barker added, "I would like to thank our fans for their support of our Dakar effort. As it has been said in the past, "Dakar is the Mount Everest of off-road racing". We hold in high regard all of the enthusiasm and support from the American fans who realize Dakar for what it is, the ultimate motorsport challenge to human spirit and physical endurance. Most importantly, I would like to thank Red Bull, Repsol and KTM for their tireless support to our team and believing that American riders can conquer the extreme challenges of Dakar."