This past weekend saw the running of the annual pinnacle event of South African Enduro racing, the Roof of Africa. Known by most as the Mother of all hard enduros, this year’s edition 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 KTM300 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 dayfinishing 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 Youngand 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.
The final results for Brother Leader Tread KTM were as follows:
2nd Wade Young
4th Travis Teasdale
9th Dwayne Kleynhans
5th Jarryd Coetzee
32nd Kirsten Landman (1st lady home)
KTM claimed yet another manufacturers’ title stamping the brand’s out and out dominance of the race over the last several decades.
Wade Young had this to say after the event: “The time trial went really well, I had a few problems with navigation because my GPS kept turning off, I was pretty surprised to see the lead I had with so many GPS issues. Day two didn’t go to plan. I was really tired and pushed as hard as I could to stay with the leading group, but I lost massive amounts of time. On Day 3, I felt strong had no problems besides losing Graham on a really hard hill, I rode on my own from there until the end with Brett and Travis not too far behind.”
Travis Teasdale: “I was really finding my rhythm in the time trial but then I had a huge crash that broke the hydraulic clutch, I made some repairs and limped home. On Race day 2 there were 3 really difficult passes and I caught up to the front guys quite fast. I maintained my pace and made it home to win the day. On the final day the first stint to the DSP was really fun with a flowing track, the sand stretch was a little tough but the 3 passes we did were insane. Jarvis pulled a gap on all of us. I tried my best in the last kilometres to make a lunge for third but I couldn’t make a clean move in the dust. I’m happy with my result. It was a tough race but so much better for me than last year.”
Dwayne Kleynhans: “I really had a good Roof. It was tough and technical, so much better than 2014. I made a few mistakes, lots of navigation errors, I got a bit lost in fact, so lost that I went down a mountain only to have to back track and go straight back up again. On the final day the most difficult part of the race for me was the last three up hills and the steep downhills, they were really difficult to say the least. I set out to finish in the top 10 and that’s just what I did. The race was well organised with tough challenging routes, my 300 XC-W worked great and a huge thanks to my crew for such a great job.”
Jarryd Coetzee: “From the start of the time trial I basically circulated at a steady pace to get a feel for the terrain and what to expect but I was happy with my time when I got in. Saturday was extremely long with a few technical challenging bits but nothing too hectic, my concentration was tested to the max. I started the last day with a stiff and sore body, it was really technical and I was challenged more than ever, I even had to park my bike against a tree at one stage to take a rest. There were times were my crew really had to motivate me to keep going, it was tough. I really enjoyed the race but I’m glad it’s over and I am even happier with my first Roof result.
Kirsten Landman: “I came into this Roof feeling stronger and more confident than ever before. I knew my time trial would have to be a good one ensuring I got to the sharp end of the Silver pack. I was happy with my run, it was a good clear uncomplicated run and I was happy with that. Race day two was the longest day at 167km taking me over 9 hours to complete. It’s a day I would prefer to forget as I had some mechanical gremlins and I ran out of fuel. I lost loads of time and was shattered when I got in. Starting further back on the last day, I knew I needed to put the hammer down so that’s what I did. It was tough and technical which suited my riding style and I made really good progress. I am really happy with my final standing. Thanks to everyone for the support. I will be back!”
Franziska Brandl, Team Manager and Director of KTM South Africa:”We are proud of our team’s achievement at this year’s Roof of Africa event. Watching our young and talented riders climb the mountains of Lesotho and bringing home such outstanding results in extreme conditions is rewarding and confirms that our team of riders and crew are a well oiled machine. Having all five riders finish this year’s event speaks for itself. Just as rewarding is knowing the Roof of Africa is a very orange event with the majority of riders and even spectators opting for KTM as their weapon of choice. With a winning record outperforming every other manufacturer by far we take pride in yet again taking home the manufacturer’s award.”