Local riders shine

Local riders shine

MASERU – Eight local riders made it to the finish line of this year’s Motul Roof of Africa to continue the promising improvement of local entrants in the annual off-road motorbike showpiece.
This year’s race ran began last Wednesday and climaxed on Saturday at Thaba-Bosiu Cultural Village.

It was the 52nd edition of the event and of the ten local riders that took part, only two did not make it to the finish line which marked Lesotho’s best showing in the race’s storied history.

Teboho Moretlo, Basia Maseatile and Joseph Motenane competed in the silver category while Tobatsi Maseatile, Nkhasi Matete, Tšolo Timello, Peter Andrews and Shabeer Moosa raced in the bronze section and all completed the gruelling race dubbed the ‘Mother of Hard Enduro’ because of its difficulty.

Lesotho Off-Road Association (LORA) public relations officer Keketso Malebo said although organisers encountered challenges during the three-day event, the 2019 Roof of Africa was a roaring success.
The performance of Lesotho’s racers was a highlight.
“The most important thing is that our riders seemed very excited about this race,” Malebo said.

“They showed keen interest in the race and their participation was very good compared to recent years. We know that there are challenges everywhere people work together, but the 52nd edition of the Roof of Africa went smoothly.”

It was another step forward in the sport’s development in Lesotho.
“80% of the local riders who started (the race) finished the race which is quite good and promising as it shows the growth of the sport in the country,” Malebo said.

“We are proud, that is a good achievement for the nation to have finished the race with such good numbers. We need to push harder and compete for the podium next year,” he said.
Local spectators also showed their enthusiasm and came out in their numbers to support the annual showpiece which has become a highpoint of Lesotho’s sports calendar.

From the first day until the end in Thaba-Bosiu spectators lined the course to catch a glimpse of the action.
Once again their cheers at the finish line were reserved for South African rider Wade Young who won the race for a third time in a row and the fifth overall.

Back in 2012, the Red Bull rider became the youngest racer to win the iconic race. Seven years later Young cemented his place as one of the Roof of Africa’s best-ever racers.
Only the legendary Patrick Andrews with nine titles has more victories than Young who pointed out his close relationship with the Roof afterwards.
“I’m very happy to take out the win after a long, tough season,” the 23-year-old from KwaZulu Natal said.

“The Roof has a very special place in my heart and is my ‘home race’ of sorts, so to perform in front of all these cheering fans feels good.”
This year’s Roof of Africa revved up with an enduro cross event which served as prologue time trial and Young came out on top. From there he never relinquished his lead over the two gruelling stages in the mountains.
Young led a podium of South African racers with Scott Bouverie and Kyle Flanagan finishing second and third.

The trio were the cream of roughly 400 competitors from around the world. While most riders came from South Africa, there were entrants from countries near and far, including Australia, Botswana, France, Germany, Italy, Mozambique, Namibia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States who all tackled Lesotho’s unique terrain.

Malebo commended Basotho on the decreased incidents of spectators injuring riders.
“The troubles caused by the spectaculars have diminished as I did not receive any reports regarding the stoning of the riders except for some spectators (riding their bikes) who lost the route on Friday at Lekhalong La Baroa and ended up in an initiation school but the matter was attended to swiftly,” Malebo said.

Overall, it was a week of promise for off-road racing in Lesotho. Malebo said it is important to build on the promise of the country’s riders such as 17 year-old Matete.
“Matete is the youngest rider who started the race and was able to finish on time; it means we are going somewhere,” Malebo said.
“We just need to support him and help him attend other races to boost his confidence and improve his riding (skills).”

Mpinane Moshoeshoe

 

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