Tuesday, November 28, 2023
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Maseru

The return of the Roof!

Business

…relay boasts historic over 400 riders

Chris Theko

This year will see the return of the coveted and iconic “Mother of Hard Enduro” relays in the Roof of Africa with more than 400 riders registered to tough it out.

This after the second-ever postponement of the Motul Roof of Africa as a result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

To celebrate its return, a new Iron Class has been added to give lesser experienced riders a chance to experience the mountains of Lesotho from the saddle.

The new class will be run alongside the established Gold, Silver and Bronze Classes.

The race was cancelled last year, and this year’s edition will run from 24 to 27 November.

Event organisers of Live Lesotho have refined the format to achieve a perfect balance between challenging elements and striving to ensure the safety of riders and their support crews. This will see each rider limited to just five support crew members.

The format this year will be similar to the 2019 edition, with the notable exception of the EnduroX component. The organisers decided to avoid mass gatherings while Covid-19 is still a consideration. 

Wednesday, 24 November, is set aside for riders to complete the required documentation and scrutineering sessions. While the process, which will take place at the Avani Lesotho Hotel and Casino, will be streamlined to facilitate social distancing, it will not be less rigorous, Live Lesotho promises. 

The next day will see the Round the Houses component through the streets of Maseru, followed by a Time Trial at Thaba Bosiu for all classes. Friday 26 and Saturday 27 November will be Race Day 1 and 2, respectively, and the start/finish will be at Thaba Bosiu, headquarters for the event. 

Charan Moore, Motul Roof of Africa Route Director and Manager of Live Lesotho said the race will be worth the wait.

“This year’s Motul Roof of Africa will be the result of two years’ planning and plotting new routes, so we’re certain that riders will feel it was worth the wait. We can confidently promise both Roof rookies and returning riders a rewarding, challenging course – something they will never forget,” Moore said.

Defending Roof champion Wade Young of the Sherco Racing Factory Motul Team, hot off the international circuit, will head this year’s field. Young defended his crown in the face of stiff Gold Class competition from the likes of Travis Teasdale (Trax GasGas), Brett Swanepoel (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna), Matt Green (Matthew Green Racing), Luke Walker (McLarens bLU cRU Yamaha), Kerim Fitzgerald (Red Bull KTM) and Heinrich Aust (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna).

Meanwhile, the race’s four-time winner, Graham Jarvis, will miss the event having sustaining a knee injury during the 2021 Red Bull Romaniacs in Romania in July. He was ruled out after undergoing a surgery.

Kirsten Landman (Brother Leadertread KTM) will be tackling the Gold Class as training for next year’s Dakar Rally. Confirmed participants in other classes include riders from the Netherlands, Germany, Australia, Egypt, Malawi, Botswana, Namibia and Swaziland, and a strong showing of Basotho riders.

Motul, always a strong presence in local motorsport, will be sponsoring the Bike Wash facility in partnership with Eco Tanks and Goscor Power Products, with Craig Kruger and his team providing facility management. 

Lesotho Off-Road Association (LORA) Public Relations Officer, Keketso Malebo said they are not surprised by the large number of entries.

“We received 100 more entries than those of the 2019 edition. In 2019 we had around 300 riders but ahead of the registration closing date, 10 November, this year we already had over 400, however, we are not surprised because riders are missing the race,” he said.

Lesotho has been hosting the Roof of Africa race annually since 1967. The event only failed to be hosted in 1998 due to political unrests in Lesotho and in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lesotho will be represented by a team of local riders which includes, veteran rider Joseph Motenane in the silver category along with Teboho Moretlo and Basia Maseatile.

Other riders in the silver class include Tobatsi Maseatile, Sechaba Chabeli, Nkhasi Matete and Timello TÅ¡olo.

Moiphepi Bereng, Andrew Bothman, Besele Malakane, Shabeer Moosa, Moshate Latela, Lerato Sefume, Nkhoakhoa Thabane and Peter Andrews will make up the 15 riders team for Lesotho who will be competing in the bronze class.

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