Brett Swanepoel has raised his hand as a rider to beat in the race for the 2017 MOTUL Roof of Africa title.
The PEPSON PLASTICS HUSQVARNA RACING star adds a competitive twist to the prestigious event, and boasts two podium finishes. Having achieved a second place in 2014 and third in 2015, he will be looking to use his advantageous Roof of Africa experience to step things up a notch this year.
A severe injury hampered the start of Swanepoel’s 2017 enduro season, and he entered the third round the National Enduro series on the back foot.
While his hopes of winning the E2 (Open) Championship were shattered, the rider had a blast cutting through the ranks for the rest of the season.
He managed to claw his way up to finish in third, and is more ready than ever for an epic technical challenge.
We chat to Swanepoel as the final countdown for the “Mother of Hard Enduro” begins:
Why do you believe you have a shot at winning or making the podium this year?
I have a shot at winning because physically, I’m the strongest that I’ve ever been. I feel really good on the bike right now, and my riding is better than I’ve seen before.
With the work I’ve put in, the bike I’m riding, and the awesome team I have behind me, I’ve got a good combination for the win.
You have had two Roof of Africa podium finishes. What do you need to do differently to ultimately step things up a notch and win this event?
It actually all has to do with the preparation. It starts with fitness, which is the key to this event. I’ve really stepped up my training this year, on and off the bike.
I’ve been getting a lot of saddle time and made sure to include more extreme stuff when I ride. Navigation is also something I’ve been working on, and I’ve jumped leaped and bounds when it comes to setup on my bike.
Do you have a specific tactic plan for the Roof of Africa this year?
Tactically, I’ve prepared myself for a few different scenarios. But at the end of the day, what I really want to do is break away from the pack. If I can’t, I’ll make sure I’m the strongest rider to race for the win at the end.
It was a tough start to the 2017 season for you, has this hampered your Roof of Africa preparation in any way?
I started the season with a very serious injury, definitely the worst I’ve ever had. But I’ve slowly progressed and don’t feel like it’s been a disadvantage. I feel so good on the bike again… I’m ready for this.
Which riders do you think will present the greatest challenge this year?
Definitely the international riders – Gomez, Jarvis, Lettenbichler and his son. But the top South African riders will also be a big threat, because everyone has been working hard and everyone wants to out-do each other. It’s going to be a tight race.
What are your greatest strengths when it comes to this event?
My fitness is something that really helps me, and the fact that I can navigate pretty well. I also have a really awesome bike this year, the Husqvarna TE 300, that is specifically suited to this terrain. It’s been proven by Graham Jarvis himself, so I’ve got no doubts in my mind.
What do you personally find most challenging about the ‘Mother of Hard Enduro’?
You just get zero rest. Events like Romaniacs have some sections that give you a chance to breathe a little, but there’s nothing like that at Roof. It’s just rocks the whole day, and your body literally takes a beating for 6-8 hours.
What achievement this year has given you the greatest confidence as you enter this event?
I don’t think there’s a specific achievement that made me ready for the Roof, it’s more the end of the season as a whole. Everything came together in the last few races for me – from setup to fitness, physically and mentally.