MASERU — Roof of Africa organisers say this year’s edition has attracted a record 300 riders in five days, a positive signal that the race is growing.
Last year there were only 262 registered riders but only 234 competitors turned up for the “Mother of All Enduros”.
This will be the 45th year since the Roof of Africa was established.
Lesotho Off-road Association (Lora), Roof of Africa organisers, said they were surprised to see a record of 300 riders registering for the competition within five days of the opening of registration lines.
“For the first time in the history of this race, we were shocked to see 300 openings filled within five days,” Keketso Malebo, the Lora public relations officer, said yesterday.
He said there are currently 340 riders who have registered for the race, including three-time Roof of Africa winner Chris Birch.
“The defending champion has not registered as yet but Birch and a few big names from Europe have already handed in their registration forms,” he said.
He said attracting more than 300 riders in less than a month is a signal that the race is growing tremendously.
World Enduro Extreme Championship is formed by the “big five” in the world — Roof of Africa, The Tough One (England), Hell’s Gate (Italy), Erzergrodoe (Austria) and Red Bull Romaniacs (Romania).
Roof of Africa is the only race in the big five which has a natural terrain with the rest of the four’s routes being engineered.
“Big names in Africa have not registered for the race but we are hopeful they will before the end of August,” Malebo said.
He said there were always going to approach the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) team to inquire if they are competing this year.
“There are no locals who have registered for this year’s Roof of Africa but we are going to consult LDF riders and people like Ntate Morojele to see if they will raise Lesotho’s flag high,” he said.
He said they are however not going to take more than 400 riders.
“We cannot allow more competitors because we will not be able to manage them well based on our terrain,” Malebo said.
“Within the 340 registered riders, some have not paid registration fees and they are given until the last day of this month. If they fail to pay, their places will be handed over to big names in both Africa and Europe who are willing to compete,” Malebo said.
He said they were last month forced to abandon the route’s markings because of the heavy snow that Lesotho has experienced since June.
“70-80 percent of the route markings is done but we could not continue with this job because of bad weather in some of the areas falling under the route,” he said.