Without question, there are certainly numerous offroad race on the planet, including difficult, brutal races. But there are not many hard-core offroad events of the calibre of the Roof of Africa Rally, the mother of all real hard Enduro events.
Every year, for 40 years now more than 200 motorcycle riders have come to Lesotho, a tiny kingdom within South Africa. They all know exactly what strength is required and how many tough obstacles await them in the raw nature of this inhospitable mountain world. And even so, every year there are even more, not the least thanks to the organisation of promoter Baboons, who are very well known throughout Europe because of this successful cross country series.
This is the reason that this year KTM decided to give maximum support to this traditional event. Together with Baboons, KTM created an attractive package whereby for the first time 20 European riders had the chance to test themselves in the Roof of Africa event, all riding identical KTM 300 machines. The package included air tickets, food and accommodation, a five-day training camp in the mountains, the race entrance fee and above all, a full Factory Race Service.
Capricious and brutal
The Roof is considered to be the most important offroad event in Southern Africa and highly capricious because of the altitude involved. The race offers everything – from brutal heat and dust right up to continuous, unforgiving rain with riders having to cross almost impassable rivers. And when the weather gods of the local Basuthos are really in a bad mood, it can be bitterly cold with snow flurries up on the high passes of the 3000 m-high Maluti Mountains. This is pure martyrdom for any rider, regardless of their level of competence.
KTM 300 EXC – robust enough for all
The single calculable fact for the 20 participants from Germany and Austria in this hard-core race is the robust KTM 300 EXC. These high-end Enduro machines from Mattighofen (Austria) have developed into the best choice for the merciless, high alpine stony desert. The proof of this is the numerous victories on the super handling and light two-stroke. Up until a few years ago it was the perpetual winner Alfie Cox who dominated the rally. In the meantime it is strong KTM novices like the recent winner Louwrence Mahoney who have removed him from the throne.
Three very tough race days
Race around the Houses’. This prologue around the residential area of Maseru, starts on the Kings Road in the middle of the capital and is a type of Supermoto race that produces great entertainment for the local fans. Whoever finishes in front in this prizewinning race, not only takes home an attractive cash prize; they also have the best start position in the following Time Trial.
First day warm-up
This first day of about 60 km is almost like a warm-up day for the professionals. But even the specialists raise a sweat when things really get underway at dawn the following day. The never-ending rubble and rocky climbs are simply inconceivable. Immensely difficult passages like Baboons Pass, The Boiler or the Pressure Cooker, which in part have never before been conquered by motorcyclists, are a constant challenge to both man and machine. And when the riders have at last mastered one climb, there is often an even more exhausting and neck-breaking descent waiting for them on the other side. They have to gather all their strength to get through this mountain landscape, even if in the end it is often nature itself that emerges as the winner.
Only the best at the finish
Depending on the climatic conditions, the drop-out rate can average 90 %. The most common cause for dropping out is physical exhaustion. And that is hardly surprising when last year’s winner Mahoney was on the bike on the third day for more than 11 hours.
KTM has dominated this race for many years like no other brand.And although the competition is increasingly challenging, the South African KTM riders like Louwrence Mahony, Daryl Curtis, Riaan Van Niekerk or the New Zealander Chris Birch are still the clear favourites. Nevertheless it is still a big victory for every other rider who is able to take home the coveted Finisher Patches. And one thing is already certain: also this year it will not be many riders who have the chance to do just that – Good Luck!
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