Organised by the Lesotho Off-Road Association (LORA), the 2012 Roof of Africa promises some fierce competition between last year’s first time winner from the UK, Graham Jarvis (Flite Extreme Husaberg) who will defend his title while the Kiwi, Chris Birch (Comsol BELL ACR KTM) would like to claim a fourth victory (he has won this event from 2008 to 2010) before leaving South Africa just after the race to return to New Zealand after he has been living here for two years.
The podium might have a different look to it as former winner and 2012 SA National E1 Enduro Champion, Jade Gutzeit, will not be competing this year as he has ‘retired’ after claiming national enduro title. He has been on the podium for the last four years (he has last won in Lesotho in 2003). Gutzeit’s two team-mates, Marc Torlage, who has recently claimed his third E2 national enduro championship title and finished just off the podium last year and Kenny Gilbert will however continue the Jarvis Chase.
They will be joined by a gaggle of Brother Broadlink KTM riders that include the UK rider, Paul Bolton, who will participate in his third Roof of Africa and would like for a better result this year after crashing early into the event last year. Experienced extreme enduro rider and former winner of this event, Darryl Curtis will tackle this event with extreme care together with Riaan van Niekerk as they are focussed on the 2013 Dakar Rally. The newly-crowned SA National Off-road OR1 Champion, Louwrens Mahoney, is making a comeback in Lesotho. He has not been in action in this event for a few years now, but has a hat-trick of victories from 2005 to 2007.
Their team-mate, Altus de Wet, has clinched the OR2 national off-road championship title and is a regular top ten finisher in Lesotho. The KTM group will again be bolstered by the two Hemingway brothers from the UK, Ben and Dan (cc Gallery) who will compete for the second consecutive year. They are multiple trials champions and will again use their trials-riding experience in the mountains of Lesotho.
Other international names on the entry list includes the German, Andreas ‘Letti’ Lettenbichler who has been on the podium in 2010 and will hope for better luck with his Husqvarna while the New Zealand rider, Mitchell Nield (Liquorland Yamaha), who finished 10th last year after his Roof of Africa debut, would like to better his 10th place. A few other interesting international names on the entry list include those of Italian KTM riders, Piero Sembenini and Romeo Valbusa, who are regular competitors in extreme enduro events as well as the Spaniard Melcior Faja Beltran (KTM Croa Sports).
Local teams will again rise to the occasion with Kargo Racing Yamaha’s Brad van Aswegen (he finished 16th last year); Mark Garland (he was 22nd) and youngster Timothy Young who will tackle his first Roof of Africa. Fever Criterion Yamaha will go to Lesotho without Jade’s younger brother, Blake Gutzeit, who finished 20th last year as he broke his leg earlier this season, but ISDE silver medallist and winner of two national enduro’s this year, 16-year old Wade Young, will be in action in his first attempt. His young team-mate, Damien Scott, will also be competing for the first time while the more experienced Bruce Gargan will complete the team in the Pro Class aiming to complete the full race distance.
Other names that can not be overlooked are those of Wynand Badenhorst (Nomadik Tents KTM) who finished sixth in 2010; experienced rider and mulltiple Senior Class enduro champion, William ‘Wild Will’ Gillit (Comsol Liquorland Yamaha) who will aim for his seventh consecutive finish since competing for the first time in 2006 and his young team-mates, Scott Bouverie (Comsol BELL ACR KTM) who was 14th in 2010 and Dominic Mantle. Multiple trials champions, Brent and Bruce le Riche (Team Beta) will be in action for the third consecutive year while James Hodson (Team Liquorland Yamaha); Mark Fox (KTM) and Graham Hedgecock (KTM Cape Town) will all aim to finish better their previous results.
This year competitors had the choice to enter in the PRO Class where they will have to complete the full race distance of about just under 500km over three days; the Expert Class class (to complete about 70% of the race) or the Intermediate Class for the ‘not so brave’. The 2012 Roof of Africa will start with the traditional and extremely exciting Round the Houses racing section in the streets of Maseru on Thursday morning (15 November). Riders will then continue to the Thaba Bosiu area to the south of Maseru to tackle the 60km time-trial that will determine the starting order for Friday’s racing section.
PRO Class competitors will have to complete 245km from Thaba Bosiu on Friday with the day’s racing ending at Free Fall Pass while they will finish at Bushman’s Pass on Saturday after completing about 187 tough kilometres.