East London’s assault on this year’s Motul Roof of Africa enduro race in Lesotho next month will once again be spearheaded by former footups South African champion Mark Fox.
Considered one of the most demanding and gruelling motorcycle races in the world, the group of local riders taking part on their KTMs includes gold riders Fox and Matthew van Niekerk; silver riders Sage McGregor and Russell Heger; and bronze riders Shane Sutherland, Tristan McGregor, Wayne Bouchier, Charl Weyer, Alex De Wit, Clayton Heyns and Cole Heyns.
Tristan and Cole – both scholars at Selborne College – will be attempting their first roof.
Entrants have been divided into the different classes depending on ability.
The classes were introduced in 2010 to give competitors a fair chance to complete certain sections of this tough event, which is sanctioned by the Lesotho Off-road Association (Lora).
Pre-determined cut-off times have been set in the bronze and silver classes while entrants in the gold class will have to complete the full race distance of around 425km of some of the harshest terrain known to man. Riders climb from 1400m above sea level to close on 3000m before heading back down.
Having finished 13th in the 2008 Roof, a spot in the top 10 has eluded the 42-year-old Fox since he first competed in 2007. Last year he finished in 29th place.
“I’m not as young or as fit as I used to be so this year I’ll be happy with a spot in the top 20 to 30 places,” Fox said.
“I think it’s going to be a more difficult race compared to last year as there is a bigger contingent of international riders taking part, who are after World Extreme Enduro championship points.”
Taking place from December 1-3, this year’s event marks the 49th year that the remarkable race is being run through the mountain kingdom of Lesotho.
Organisers have warned that fitness and mental strength will play a big role.
The Roof will again start with the traditional Around the Houses race on December 1, which takes place through the streets of Maseru.
A time-trial follows, which will determine the starting order for racing on Friday. “Survivors” will then line up on Saturday for the final day’s ride.
Oil and lubricant giant Motul has stepped in as main sponsor of the event and signed a deal for full naming rights.
The company supports teams in international competitions like 24 Hours of Le Mans (cars and motorcycles), FIA World Endurance Championship, Super GT, Pikes Peak, MotoGP, World Superbikes, Endurance World Championship and Ice Speedway Gladiators World Championship.
Motul’s Steve Lurie and Mark Roach from AMP, Motul’s motorcycle divisions, said the company had a strong ambition to partner with extreme events.
“The Roof of Africa is one of the most challenging and enduring off road races in the world, and after a successful two years as lubricant partner, it was an easy decision for us to strengthen our partnership with the event,” Lurie said.
Asked what competitors could expect this year, they replied: “For starters, there’s a brand new start/finish spot, and it’s awesome! [It is] about 15 minutes closer to Maseru and spectators will be able to watch the riders for about 20 minutes as they are dropped straight into the tough stuff.
“The [race organisers] are going all out to make this the toughest route to date.”
The start/finish area for this year’s Roof will be situated at Bushmans Pass.
The international contingent of riders includes Spanish sensation Alfredo Gomez and last year’s winner, Graham Jarvis from the UK. South Africa’s top rider, Wade Young – who finished in second place last year – will also be competing.
For more information and updates on the race visit: www.roofofafrica.co.ls