|Day 1: A Champion Shows His Mettle and a New Star Rises |
Reigning Motul Roof of Africa champion, Wade Young (Sherco Racing) staked an impressive claim to defending his title and is on track – at least for now – to chalk up an impressive fifth victory. In any other race, his lead of 23 minutes at the end of Day 1 would be described as “unassailable”, but the Roof is never over until it’s over. Tomorrow’s stage, at just under 140km will be shorter and more technical than the 180km that Gold Category riders covered today, almost a sprint after Day 1’s epic stage.
2019 Motul Roof of Africa Route Director, Altus de Wet, had predicted that riders would have a long, hard day in the saddle, describing Day 1 of the Roof as a “marathon”. Judging by the comments of the leading riders – who had clearly relished the challenge – he was absolutely right.
“It was a long day in the saddle for the riders,” commented Charan Moore from Live Lesotho. “There was plenty of action for fans to enjoy, and their support certainly made it a day to remember for all the competitors,” he added.
As Young dismounted at the Thaba Bosiu finish line, he commented that “It was an awesome day in the mountains for me, I’m very happy with my pace. The route was quite fast for the first two hours and then it got really hard and tough for around four hours. I can tell lots of work has been done on the route – they did a great job.”
Mercia Jansen, Motul Area Manager for Southern and Eastern Africa, reflected on a great day’s racing. “The Roof has certainly lived up to its reputation as the mother of Hard Enduro,” she commented. “It’s a challenging event but definitely still achievable for those riders who put in the necessary training. The awesome vibe created by the spectators also helped to spur them on,” she added.
Day 1 of this year’s Roof provided every kind of terrain that the Maluti Mountains and their surroundings are known for. The first third of the course, to the DSP, was classic Lesotho lowlands riding: fast and flowing. By the time he arrived at the DSP, just before 8am, Young had already built up a 5-minute lead over the chasing pack of Kyle Flanagan, Scott Bouverie and Graham Jarvis. Jarvis had little choice but to stay with the group for most of the day, as GPS issues meant that he couldn’t break away.
The DSP marked the start of the really challenging part of the day’s riding, with six near-vertical climbs of almost 1 000m each. This 50km stretch took the lead riders over 4 hours, with some jostling for position amongst the competitors behind Young.
The final 40km seemed to particularly suit Young’s assertive riding style – his average race pace was just over 22km/h for a finish time of 7h18’23”.
Kyle Flanagan (Bidvest bLU cRU Yamaha) came in second. “It was a really tough and long day today but I’m happy with the way it turned out. Scott, myself and Graham chased each other for most of the day and I’m happy to be in second overall for tomorrow’s start,” he stated.
Scott Bouverie (Brother Leadertread KTM) was just 14 seconds behind Flanagan – he admitted that “it was tough going today; the route was unforgiving, but I made sure I stayed in the running. I’m happy I’ll be starting right behind Kyle in third”.
While Wade Young holds what might seem a comfortable lead in the Gold Category, the Silver Category proved to be a much closer affair. Silver Category riders also endured a long day, with the 150km course consisting of challenging climbs and lots of tricky, bushy terrain. The midway point was marked by a signature pass that saw riders climb to an altitude of just over 2 800m.
Despite beginning the day in seventh place, Ryan Pelser (Motul Alfie Cox KTM) made up enough time to overhaul Dwain Barnard (D and D Group KTM). The two riders thrashed it out all day, with neither being able to drop the other. At the end of Day 1, a mere second separates them. Bruce May (Bidvest bLU cRU Yamaha) came in third.
The winner of yesterday’s Bronze Category Time Trial is the relatively unknown Austin Stuart (Nick’s Electrical KTM). Today the Bloemfontein teenager, competing in his first Roof, really made a name for himself by setting a blistering pace. He finished the day with an overall lead of more than 20 minutes over second-placed Steven Carr (BrickIT KTM). Carr rode with veteran Richard Moore (Dynamic Racing) for much of the day, before a major crash cost Moore some ten minutes.
Day 1 of the 2019 Motul Roof of Africa raised more questions than it answered, with much of the intrigue ahead of Day 2 focused on Gold Category “silent assassin” Graham Jarvis. With a full day of Extreme Enduro action still to come, there’s a lot to look forward to. As contender Scott Bouverie remarked, “On Day 2, anything could happen.”
Follow all the latest action and find awesome Roof images and video on the Motul Roof of Africa Facebook page throughout the race.
The 2019 Motul Roof of Africa: Victorious Veterans and Solid Gold at EnduroX
Today’s cloudy, overcast weather couldn’t dampen the spirits of the hundreds of spectators who lined the streets of Maseru to watch Round The Houses of the 2019 Motul Roof of Africa.
The RTH stage has always been a firm fan favourite, and this year was no different – although as the entire course was on tar, it was even faster than in previous years. The capital city of Lesotho reverberated to the sound of over 400 Enduro bikes at full tilt as the 2019 Motul Roof of Africa got underway.
The organisers of the event, Live Lesotho, ensured that the opening event began with a flourish, the return to the original Round The Houses format was a real crowd pleaser with an excellent atmosphere throughout the city. With no stadium section, it became much more of street event – with speeds to match!
So much so, in fact, that the curtain-raiser for the 2019 Motul Roof of Africa was done and dusted in less than two hours. Only the next two days of Extreme Enduro racing will tell if the wisdom of Roof veterans is correct: they say that you can’t win the Roof at Round The Houses, but you can certainly lose it here – before you even get into the mountains proper.
It seems that no-one had shared this advice with Scott Bouverie (Brother Leadertread KTM), Kyle Flanagan (Bidvest bLU cRU Yamaha), Brad Cox (Brother Leadertread KTM) and New Zealand legend Chris Birch (Brother Leadertread KTM) who treated the crowds to some bar-banging action over three laps around Maseru, finishing in that order and just seconds apart at the head of the Gold Category Riders.
Meanwhile the Silver Category winner was Motul Roof veteran Alex Vowles, who has competed in over 20 Roofs to date. Due to the number of entrants, the Bronze Category was split into two groups. Bronze Category Group 2 winner was Graham McLachlan (Live Lesotho Team), riding in his 21st Roof. Francois Du Toit (Raceworx KTM) pulled off the win in Bronze Category Group 1.
“I am blown away by the atmosphere at the event and the support we’ve received from all quarters,” enthused Live Lesotho’s Manager Charan Moore. “We love it when a plan comes together,” he added.
After RTH, the field split, with the Gold Category Riders heading to Maseru Mall for the EnduroX, while the Silver and Bronze Category competitors got their first real look at the start/finish venue, Thaba Bosiu, as they lined up for the individual Time Trial component.
With rain predicted over the next two days of Enduro racing, a good Time Trial result was a priority for all riders, as it would determine their starting order (early starters tend to slip and slide less before the mud has been churned up).
For today at least, the rain held off and the relatively dry conditions spelled fast, flowing action as riders pushed the envelope just a little, and took advantage of the opportunity to make last-minute adjustments.
The winners of each Category Time Trial will be the first starters when the Motul Roof Day 1 begins on Friday morning. Dwain Barnard (D&D Group) triumphed in the Silver Category in a time of 48:56, followed by Armand Fourie (Raceworx KTM Sanrose) and Cayden Purchase (Motul Alfie Cox KTM).
There was a new name on the podium in the Bronze Category as Austin Stuart (Nicks Electrical KTM) came home in 52:36, closely followed by Dylan Bauer (Yamaha) and then Nardus Rabe (Roost KTM). Early indications are that the Bronze Category will be closely fought.
There was a familiar look to the top of the table after the Gold Category riders had completed the challenging EnduroX stage. The chance to see so many elite riders competing on their doorstep meant that the residents of Maseru were out in force, with vendors doing a brisk trade.
This element of the Roof consisted of a series of heats, followed by semi-finals which whittled the field down to the last ten riders. Defending champion Wade Young (Sherco Racing) took top spot, followed by wily veteran (and fellow four-time Roof champion) Graham Jarvis (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna), with SA South Coast rider Kyle Flanagan (Bidvest bLU cRU Yamaha) in third.
The stage has been set for a battle royal in the Maluti Mountains at the 2019 Motul Roof of Africa. Follow all the action and find great Roof images and video on the Motul Roof of Africa Facebook page throughout the race.
The 2019 Motul Roof of Africa: Wade Young Makes it Five!
Day 2 of the 2019 Motul Roof of Africa dawned bright and sunny, with very little trace of the clouds and rain seen earlier in the week. As the temperature rose, overnight leader (and defending Roof champion) Wade Young (Sherco Racing) turned up the heat on his rivals.
Although the chasing riders managed to make up a couple of minutes on Young, they were unable to really trouble the daunting lead he had established on Day 1. With a total race time over both days of 13h16’08”, Wade Young crossed the Thaba Bosiu finish line more than 20 minutes ahead of Scott Bouverie (Brother Leadertread KTM), with Kyle Flanagan (Bidvest bLU cRU Yamaha) a further 1’10” adrift.
Having notched up his fifth Motul Roof of Africa victory (and his third in a row), he has cemented his second place in the all-time Roof of Africa hall of fame. Young has pulled clear of Graham Jarvis (four victories) and continues to close the gap on the legendary Alfie Cox, with nine.
Despite his stunning performance, Young was characteristically modest as the significance of what he had achieved slowly began to sink in. “I had an awesome day yesterday and built a nice lead so that all I had to do today was maintain it,” he explained. “I made sure I stayed out of sight of the chasing pack and really had some fun on the bike…the route was awesome and very well marked which made navigation easy. So happy to win my fifth Roof!”
“We have a great team of people who have put this event together and we’re very happy that Wade Young has been able to make history here once again,” commented Charan Moore of Live Lesotho. “We’re going to make sure that we take the event from strength to strength over the next couple of years and having such positive feedback from him will help attract even more international and local teams and riders over the coming years,” concluded Moore.
“The feedback from both riders and spectators has been overwhelmingly positive,” reported Mercia Jansen, Motul Area Manager for Southern and Eastern Africa. “We’d like to congratulate not just the winning riders and their teams, but Live Lesotho on picking up the baton of the Roof and delivering a superb fifty-second edition of the “mother of Hard Enduro”. We’re thrilled to lend our support to the Roof – an event that we believe will continue to go from strength to strength,” she added.
On a day that Wade Young reinforced his claim to be a Roof legend, a rider in the colours of another iconic Motul Roof competitor took first place in the Silver Category. In what was probably the most intriguing duel of the day, Ryan Pelser (Motul Alfie Cox KTM) managed to keep his nose in front throughout a hard-fought battle with Dwain Barnard (D&D Group).
The gap between the two riders was just one second coming into Day 2. During a day-long tussle, Pelser managed to extend this to eight minutes at one point, ultimately winning by five. “Dwain and I rode together for the early part of the race and at the first big climb I managed to pull a gap on him. I pushed hard to the DSP and when I realised I was eight minutes clear of him I knew I just had to keep a steady pace and keep it safe on the way home,” said Pelser. “This is my second Roof in Silver and I’m so happy with the win!” Third place in this hotly contested Category went to Roof veteran Bruce May (Bidvest bLU cRU Yamaha).
In the Bronze Category, new Enduro sensation Austin Stuart (Nick’s Electrical KTM) increased his Day 1 advantage of 20 minutes to a full 35 minutes.
“I achieved what I set out to do in my first ever Roof by winning it. I rode at a steady pace and I really enjoyed the more technical climbs today; I loved today’s route,” explained the Bloemfontein-based teenager. He then laid down a marker for 2020 by stating, “Next year I’ll be taking on Silver!”
Second place in the Bronze Category went to Steven Carr (BrickIT KTM) with Richard Moore (Dynamic Racing KTM) taking the third and final podium spot.
Full 2019 Motul Roof of Africa results can be found on the official event website, and there are stunning Roof Day 2 images and video on the Motul Roof of Africa Facebook page.