Wednesday 12th & Thursday 13th December: Tracks closed. The rain up here in the hills keeps coming.

Heading into the Final Day

Roof of Africa 2015

maddix park mx

Clive Strugnell reports on  Day 2 Friday 4th December


The Roof of Africa may be the toughest off-road race in the World, but today it took on a real carnival atmosphere, with enthusiasts, riders’ supporters and service crews enjoying the hot sun at all the spectator and designated service points. The most festive of all was DSP 3 where families with children of all ages, aunties, grannies and even the odd sheep and village puppy picnicked and frolicked in the Likolobeng river. The entire area was awash with brightly coloured awnings (mostly from Brad Anassis’ factory in Pretoria), flags flapping languidly in the light breeze, and hundreds of people lazing around talking rubbish about their riders choice of personal trainer, sports psychologist, nutritionist and how they had helped their riders so much this year. A whole bunch of ageing past Roof riders sat around nursing their beer and sore knees whilst discussing the merits of the different heart medication and blood pressure pills they use, and the riding skills of their grandsons. The main reason for the support from so many families is that maybe being run in December when school is over for the year and holiday season is starting attracts them.
All this came to an end, and a roar went up when a rider was spotted hauling along the top of a surrounding mountain…seconds later the rider rounded a peak and plunged down the almost perpendicular side of the mountain. In a spectacular display of control and speed Wade Young worked his way to the bottom and with an impressive bow wave crossed the river into the service point. Just over five minutes later the chasing group of Travis Teasdale, Graham Jarvis and Brett Swanepoel jostled their way down as well. Close behind them Kenny Gilbert and Jade Gutzeit continued the display of classy enduro riding. It isn’t often that spectators get to see what really goes on in the mountains during the Roof, and these riders certainly put on a great show. In the service point the crews were just as efficient and intense as any televised Formula One pit stop as they tended to their rider and fettled the bikes for the rest of the route. Within minutes all the leading riders were off to continue their battle.
And what a battle it was….Teasdale (KTM) pushed all the way by Jarvis (Husqvarna) slowly closed the gap on Young. Swanepoel was always close enough to take advantage of any mistake by the riders in front. As the kilometers of arduous riding wore on, it became obvious that Wade Young was in trouble, and Teasdale inched ever closer, and eventually overtook him, followed by Jarvis, and then Swanepoel and Gilbert. Ominously looming behind him was Jade Gutzeit……only a minute back! At the finish the bikes were quickly wheeled away by the service crews, but not before we had a glance at Wade’s tyres…the front and rear were shredded, testimony to how hard this guy rides.
So for the final day tomorrow the stage is set, as so many times before in the Roof, for a real battle. Leaving first will be Travis Teasdale (KTM), followed by Graham Jarvis (Husqvarna), Swanepoel (Yamaha), Gilbert (Yamaha) and Young (KTM). And then the man everyone is watching..Jade Gutzeit on another Yamaha. Jarvis has probably dealt with riders as ferociously competitive as Jade, but tomorrow will show how well the other young guns manage him. Their only chance is to try and ride away from him, because the moment he gets them in sight the pressure will be on. 
And some news on other favourite riders: Altus de Wet (Sherco) finshed 9th, Marc Torlage (Yamaha) 8th, Bronson Louw (Husqvarna) 7th William Gillit (Yamaha) 29th, Mark Garland (Husqvarna)30th, Charan Moore crashed, and MX Champion Ritchie van der Westhuizen(Husqvarna) still going strong in 47th

 
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