Known by most as the Mother of all hard enduros, this year’s Roof of Africa didn’t disappoint and was truly a gruelling test of man and machine versus the hard unforgiving mountain terrain that is the mountain kingdom of Lesotho.
This year’s event saw 400 riders compete in three classes reaching a maximum altitude of 3000m, traversing a total route distance in excess of 500km. To make things that much more challenging, riders were exposed to high temperatures of up to 40 degrees in some of the canyons proving yet again that Africa is not for sissies and that the Roof stands proud as one of the toughest motorcycle races on the planet.
The fanfare started as always, with the traditional “Round the houses” around the city streets of Maseru to bring the action straight to the people of Lesotho and the thousands of race fans that made the pilgrimage to the Mountain Kingdom. Brother Leader Tread KTM’s Wade Young raced in race two with all the other highest seeded gold riders and set the fastest time for this showcase event. From there it was onto the start of the time trial which was the first time the boys and girls would see the terrain in store for them over the next three days.
The time trial was said to be more gruelling than years past and route planners put an estimate time of around two hours down to complete the loop. Well the gold guys sure proved their calculation incorrect with the top 50 riders doing the course in under two hours. Brother Leader Tread KTM pilot Wade Young set the fastest time around the course on board his KTM 300 XC-W with a staggering 1 h 21 min, some five minutes quicker than anyone else on the track. Travis Teasdale was well on his way for a top five but had a big crash damaging his master cylinder on the clutch side forcing him to make track side repairs to just get the 250 XCF-W to the finish. Dwayne Kleynhans had a great run in the time trial to get a starting position of 8th with Travis just behind him in 10th. The Gold Brother Leader Tread KTM trio were well positioned for a race in the front.
Jarryd Coetzee, the team newbie tackled his first ever Roof and didn’t disappoint in the time trial setting the 8th quickest time in silver, with Kirsten Landman, SA lady enduro sensation setting an amicable 32nd quickest time.
Race day 2 had arrived and as always, this meant a really early start for the riders. At 6am Wade Young set off first with a lead of five minutes over second place, so far so good, if he could manage the gap, he would be in a good position to take the win. But this is the Roof and anything can happen, and it did. Wade lost a truck load of time due to a GPS malfunction and some small issues. He would finish day two in fifth place, some 13 minutes behind the 167km stage winner, who was none other than Pietermaritzburg whiz kid and Brother Leader Tread KTM team mate, Travis Teasdale. Dwayne Kleynhans had a solid but tough day finishing in 12th after he lost some time through navigational errors. The silver entrants, Jarryd and Kirsten, had mixed days respectively.
Jarryd showed his true metal and talent by holding course setting the 7th fastest time in class for the day, only struggling a little on some of the more technical sections. Kirsten however had a bad day with fuelling issues running out of petrol and the abuse of the course. She slipped back to a 50th position finish on the second day.
Race day 3, the final day, was an intense battle of brains vs brawn and some experience thrown in for good measure. Wade Young and Travis Teasdale duked it out with 2014 podium finishers Swanepoel and Jarvis and the quartet spent most of the day swopping positions, much to the delight of the droves of spectators that came to support these Enduro gladiators. The race was close until the first of two tough climbs of the day. Jarvis showed his experience and prowess on the really technical terrain and pulled an insurmountable lead on the chasing trio. Each of whom took their turn to be the second rider on track. By the time the riders had reached Hard Rock pass, the chase was almost decided with Jarvis in the lead, followed by Wade Young, now riding on his own, with Travis Teasdale and Swanepoel jostling places in a motocross style duel. By the time the chequered flag was raised at the top of Music box, Jarvis crossed the line ahead of Young, with Swanepoel pipping Teasdale to the line. Race day 3 took its toll on Jarryd Coetzee with the Brother Leader Tread KTM rider having to stop for a rest after starting the last day with a battered and stiff body. The Roof Rookie did a great job to cross the line in 6th position. Kirsten Landman had an amazing final day with the likable lass clawing her way back through the field passing no less than 27 other silver class riders to end her day in 23rd position.