The wait is over and an orange onslaught on the Kingdom of Lesotho is imminent. The annual Roof of Africa will take place from 15-18 November with the headquarters in Maseru.
This will be the 50th edition of the ‘Mother of Hard Enduro’, Africa’s largest and oldest offroad event, which promises to be more exciting than ever.
An international rider that will take centre stage at this year’s event is non-other than Alfredo Gómez. The Red Bull KTM Factory Racing legend is currently ranked as one of the best hard enduro and super enduro riders in the world.
Gómez began his career racing trials, and was soon crowned the World Junior Champion. He surprised everyone by giving up his promising trials career for enduro riding, and has never looked back.
He boasts titles like the 2017 & 2015 Erzbergrodeo’s Red Bull Hare Scramble champion; 2016 winner of The Wall Extreme and podium finisher at Red Bull Romaniacs. There is a very particular badge he would like to add to his belt, however – the esteemed Roof of Africa title.
Gómez somewhat controversially missed out on victory in Lesotho last year after a calculation error. He thought that he would take the win if he finished the race with arch rival Graham Jarvis (ROCKSTAR ENERGY HUSQVARNA FACTORY RACING), only to discover that the nine second difference on the final climb to the finish line resulted in a second place.
He will certainly take on Lesotho’s treacherous terrain with vengeance this year, making for an epic Gómez -Jarvis international showdown.
Gómez will have some stiff sibling rivalry to face too. The Brother Leader Tread KTM team are coming to Lesotho with guns blazing, and show great promise of snatching up the Roof of Africa title themselves.
All eyes will be on 2017’s local enduro hero, Travis Teasdale. The rising star not only put on a local show when he won the National Enduro Series last month, but has also had incredible international success this year as well.
If the world did not already know the name Travis Teasdale, they did after Red Bull Romaniacs. The KZN pro jumped from his local pond to nail a fifth place finish at the renowned event; beating out some the world’s very best in the process.
His teammate Dwayne Kleynhans will also arrive in Lesotho with some valuable Romaniacs experience in the bag. The Brother Leader Tread KTM rider finished the prestigious gold route and took a creditable eighteenth place overall.
Kleynhans cannot be ruled out of the race for the Roof of Africa title. He will be revved up after finishing second in the E1 class of the National Enduro Series last month, where he was narrowly defeated by teammate Scott Bouverie.
Bouverie adds another competitive twist to the Brother Leader Tread KTM threat. The rider not only walked away as the E1 National Enduro champion this year, but also carries the extra edge of having tasted what the Roof of Africa podium is like.
He placed third in the prestigious event twice in his career (2016 and 2013), and will be looking to use his advantageous Roof of Africa experience to step things up a notch this year.
Kirsten Landman, as always, is set to steal the spotlight. She is the only woman in Roof of Africa history to have finished the gruelling Gold route.
The Queen of the Mountains and first lady of World Extreme Enduro kept her score sheet clean with a great finish in the Silver class at Romaniacs this year, where she walked away with yet another top 50 finish overall.
She also took the Silver class title in the 2017 National Enduro Series, completely annihilating every competitor in her path. For the first time in her local riding career, however, Landman will face stiff competition from another female competitor.
PEPSON PLASTICS HUSQVARNA RACING’s Sandra Gomez will fly in from Spain to make her Roof of Africa debut. She comes with a list of enduro achievements like the 2016 FIM Women’s SuperEnduro World Cup title, 2015 AMA EnduroCross Cup winner, 2014 Spanish Trials champion and multiple X Games medalist.
Lastly, there will be an exciting international flavour added to the Brother Leader tread KTM team. This will come from Manuel Lettenbichler, who has confirmed that he will be joining his father Andreas Lettenbichler (KTM Factory Racing) at the event, both racing a KTM 300 EXC TPI, KTM’s latest generation of fuel injected 2-stroke models.
Competitive racing runs deep in the Lettenbichler genes, and the young ‘Letti’ superstar has often been described to be the future of hard enduro.
Who will get their hands on the coveted Roof of Africa title first? While that remains unknown, there is a good chance the winner will be from the orange family.