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Gonna be tough, up on The Roof

2011-11-25 12:37

ROUGHT RIDERS: The Roof of Africa race is not for amateurs - riders get hurt but nobody sheds tears - except of joy, when they win.

MASERU, Lesotho - Yamaha’s Marc Torlage posted the fastest time for the 50km time trial in the Thaba Bosiu area of Lesotho on Thursday, Day 1 of 2011 Roof of Africa bike rally.

Weather conditions varied from hot and shiny to a hailstorm with extreme wind.

Torlage, who dislocated a shoulder two weeks earlier and had to reset it himself in the bush, started the Round the Houses street race in Maseru with this injury but admitted that within the first kilometre he hit a rock and realised quickly that the injury was healed and his shoulder was 100%.


Torlage had to call it a day in 2010 while running with the top five when he broke some toes but got his 2011 race off to a good start by putting his 250cc Yamaha on pole for Racing Section 2 on Friday.

Jade Gutzeit (Yamaha) will tackle the 199km route 32sec behind Torlage after losing some time at the cross-over between the two loops of the figure of eight structure of the time trial.

Kenny Gilbert (KTM) is some 55sec behind Gutzeit and only 15 seconds ahead of a jet-lagged Graham Jarvis (Husaberg) who is attempting his first Roof. Jarvis won the previous weekend in Australia, flew back to the UK and landed in South Africa only on Wednesday.

Jarvis, who has won four 2011 World Extreme Enduro races, figured out the traditional ‘Roof Marking’ (pink spray-paint on rocks and structures) together with the routes on the GPS worked and will start just ahead of three-times Roof winner, Chris Birch (KTM).


Birch is, however, not worried about his start position for the first ‘real’ day of racing in the mountains as he also lost time together with Gutzeit while he also admitted to lose some more time on the route.

Three riders, each aboard a KTM, posted the same time for the time trial – the Gold Class winner for Round the Houses Brian Capper, Wynand Badenhorst and UK trials specialist Ben Hemingway who is also attempting his first Roof with his brother Dan who posted the 33rd-fastest time, 6min13 behind the winner.

Ben’s team mate for this event, Adrian Werner, will be 10sec behind him while Darryl Curtis will be the first Brother KTM rider on the grid after posting the 10th fastest time. Curtis and Birch admitted to being a bit more careful in the mountains as they will both be lining up for their first Dakar Rally on January 1, 2012.

The Brother band filled places 10-15 with Riaan van Niekerk 19sec behind Curtis and 11 ahead of Altus de Wet with the UK’s Paul Bolton and local Gray Dick just behind them. Andreas Lettenbichler (Husqvarna) rounded off the top 15.


The German will start just ahead of Jade’s younger brother, Blake, (Yamaha) who will in turn be ahead of Bradly van Aswegen (Yamaha) and three New Zealand riders – Karl Power (Yamaha); Mitchell Nield (Gas Gas) and Michael Skinner (KTM).

There were problems for Mark Garland who drowned his Husaberg and will start 94th, two places ahead of motocross champion Richard van der Westhuizen (Yamaha) who is trying enduro racing for the first time. Another MX racer, Botswana’s Ross Branch (Honda) was 23rd-fastest.

While the Round the Houses section of the Silver Class was won by Tyson Labuschagne (KTM), Robert Philips (KTM) posted the fastest time for the time-trial (he finished 38th overall). He was followed by Faan van Deventer (Yamaha – 45th) and Laurence Truter (KTM) who was 55th overall.

Graham Ellison (KTM) pocketed prize money for winning the Bronze Class at Round the Houses but Tshkoholo Mojaki will lead the Bronze Class on Friday after he was the fastest after the 51km time trial. Mojaki was 60th overall and will have Garth Prost (KTM) behind him (he finished 74th after the time trial) with Terence Shacklady (Yamaha), who was 110th fastest, the third rider in this class.


The only female entrant, Toni Jardine (125cc Yamaha), finished the time trial and will be among the 218 starters on Friday.

Friday’s racing section started at 6am in the Ha Molangoane area from where Gold Class entrants will have to complete a 199km distance; Silver Class riders will have to do a shorter 136km section while Bronze Class riders will tackle an 85km route.

Spectators are welcome.

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