GRAHAM JARVIS WINS GRUELLING ROOF OF AFRICA FIRST TIME OUT
Saturday 26 November, Lesotho – The British extreme enduro motorcycle rider, Graham Jarvis (Flite Extreme Husaberg) won the 2011 Roof of Africa after beating the three time winner, Chris Birch (Comsol Alfie Cox KTM) onhis first attempt at the 44th running of this event in the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho. The South African, Jade Gutzeit (Proudly Bidvest Yamaha) finished third after he lost the close three day battle with Birch a few hundred metres before the chequered flag.
Jarvis added the Roof of Africa race victory to his 2011 list that consisted of four (of the five) world extreme enduro races, but admitted that racing for more than seven hours each day for two days made his first Roof of Africa experience quite tough. They competed in the Gold Class where competitors had to tackle routes that included various treacherous mountain passes with a distance of 200 kilometres on both Friday and Saturday.
Jarvis, Birch and Gutzeit stuck together for the best part of the race with just over two minutes separating them at the beginning of the last day. The UK trials specialist showed his skills on the more technical rocky climbs and took the lead halfway through the day to beat Birch by 22min 10s. The Kiwi crashed hard face first early on Saturday and his bike landed on top of him causing him to injure his foot. He is happy with his result and gave Jarvis all the credit for winning this edition of the Roof of Africa which he described as one of the toughest ones for him personally.
Riders had to dig deep within themselves and stories of determination combined with physical and verbal support from the crowds, brought tears to many eyes. One such moment played itself off at the top of Bushman’s Pass at the VW Amarok Finish for the Gold Class competitors where more than 5 000 spectators witnessed Gutzeit’s luck turn soon after he appeared as the second rider behind Jarvis. He made a mistake on an energy-sapping incline and lost valuable minutes recovering his bike. This resulted in Birch overtaking him with the chequered flag literally in sight and he eventually finished 7min 41s behind the dethroned Kiwi. It was the fourth consecutive year that he completed this extreme enduro race as the highest South African finisher.
Marc Torlage (Mr Price Yamaha) was happy with his fourth place finish, after starting from pole position on Friday.He struggled with his bike and lost 25 minutes on the day, but managed to hold onto fourth position. He along with Brian Capper (Full Throttle Red Bull KTM) had the crowd on their feet with a spectacular 50 metre sprint to the finish line, Torlage crossed the line in front of Capper by less than a bike length. Capper eventually finished seventh overall after racing consistently for three days.
2011 Roof of Africa Podium with Jarvis
Roof of Africa veteran, Darryl Curtis (Brother Broadlink KTM) was fifth and admitted that he raced “with more care” (if that is at all possible) as he did not want to risk any injuries before he competes in the 2012 Dakar Rally. He won an extremely close battle with the multiple UK enduro champion, Ben Hemingway (Fever / cc Gallery KTM) who competed for the first time together with his brother, Dan. A mere three seconds separated them after more than 16 hours in the saddle.
Like most of the riders, Curtis’s team-mate, Altus de Wet, survived a string of small crashes to finish eighth overall, just over two minutes ahead of the German rider, Andreas Lettenbichler (Montage Print Husqvarna) whohad issues with his bike. ‘Letti’ enjoyed the race although he would’ve liked it to be even more technical and vowed to be back for another try at victory.
The New Zealand Under 200cc enduro champion, Mitchell Nield (Gas Gas) also competed for the first time and was ecstatic with his 10th place overall. His compatriots, Michael Skinner (Team Liquorland KTM) finished in the top ten last year, but was 13th this year while Karl Power (Shimwells Yamaha) was 15th in his first attempt (his cousin, Chris, finished 33rd) and Philip Cheater (KTM), who crashed last year, finished 29th.
Also in the top 20 were Brother Broadlink KTM team-mates, Riaan van Niekerk, who approached the race with a ‘riding to enjoy’ attitude as he was still recovering from an injury (he finished 11th and was 47 seconds behind Nield) and Gray Dick who after experiencing navigational issues finished in 14th place. Wynand Badenhorst (Nomadik Tents KTM) finished 12th, Bradley van Aswegen (Kargo Racing Yamaha) finished 19th after a relative trouble-free race; Team Liquorland’s James Hodson (Husaberg) was 17th; Ben Hemingway’s brother, Dan, took 18th place with Stefan Oosthuysen 19th