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Jarvis, Birch to lock horns in Roof of Africa

Pascalinah Kabi MASERU — Roof of Africa defending champion Graham Jarvis and three-time winner Chris Birch are expected to tussle it out in this year’s race which roars into life on Thursday. The race will run over three days. Jarvis knocked Birch off his throne last year and is expected to put another strong show during this year’s competition which begins at Maseru Club. The British national is expected to arrive in the country tomorrow.

New Zealander, Birch, will on the other hand be looking to reclaim the title he lost last year and win the Roof of Africa title for the fourth time in five years. The two, together with South Africans Darryl Curtis and Altus de Wet and German Andreas Lettenbichier, are tipped to make this competition more spectacular for the fans in the elite category — Pro Class. Roof of Africa is run in three categories — Round the House and Time Trial (60km), Friday (260km) and Saturday (148km). A rider who crosses the finishing line first in the Pro Class category will walk away with M3 000 in the Round the House race.

The winners of the Time Trial and Friday race will get M5 000 and M8 000 respectively while the winner of the Saturday category will also get M8 000. There will be other competitors in the middle category — Expert Class — of which the winner will receive M2 000. Local riders Molamu Morojele and Sotho Matala will each be eyeing the M2 000 prize money in the lowest category of the race — Intermediate Class.
“Winners of both Expert and Intermediate Classes will each get a certain percentage of the first prizes in the Time Trial, Friday and Saturday as they are not running 100 percent of the race,” Keketso Malebo, the Lesotho Offroad Association (Lora) public relations officer, said.

He told the Sunday Express there is a possibility that Intermediate Class will be decided between Morojele and Matala. “They are both long-time riders, experienced, know the terrain very well and should everything go well, they can do well and win the Intermediate Class,” Malebo said. This year’s race, he said, is tougher as compared to last year. “We are doing it the old style Roof of Africa way. “I can assure you it’s longer, tougher and more physically and mentally challenging to the riders especially in the Pro Class,” he said. He said they are each year forced to drop some of the crucial aspects of the race because of lack of funds.

“We need M1.5 million to organise and run the Roof of Africa but we have not raised that money as the private sector is not doing enough to help us raise the funding,” he said. Meanwhile, Malebo said they had signed South Africa’s Brian Capper to entertain spectators during the Round the House at Maseru Club. “Brian will be doing spectacular stunts in between heats (group races) to entertain fans while the Makenete Brothers will also be leading the competitors with their Zarco (racing car),” he said. Malebo said this is Lora’s way of engaging spectators as they want Basotho to be part of the race.

Twenty-one-time Roof of Africa rider, Errol Dalton, who died in a car accident, will be honoured by assigning one biker to ride on his bike during Round the House.Dalton was also helping Lora to draw up the Roof of Africa route for this year prior to his death.

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