News 1 Dec 2009

Off-Road: Birch wins second Roof of Africa enduro event


The 2009 edition of the Roof of Africa, well known as the “Mother of all Hard Enduro events” was won by New Zealander Chris Birch onboard his KTM 300 after times were adjusted at the end of the three day event. Birch also won in 2008.

The “Roof” has been run for 42 years and takes riders through terrain in the southern African country of Lesotho that demands immense physical effort and skills. This year riders also had to face extreme heat up to 42 degrees Celsius and some organizational difficulties.

The field had been dramatically trimmed by the end of a very tough second day. Some riders were so exhausted that they ended up staying overnight with local residents in the mountains but organisers were able to account for them all the following morning.  It was then decided to shorten the course for the final day but this information did not reach all the teams and some of the course marshals.

Birch set out as leader on the final day and despite some confusion over the adjusted course and a missing marshal at a check point, headed for the notorious “Bushman’s Pass” in good conscience. He was then stopped by organisers who agreed to let him restart his race because of the confusion and the missing marshal.

Meanwhile Andreas Lettenbichler one of his biggest rivals, had hit the front and established a good lead also over competitors Mead and Curtis who were behind him. Lettenbichler held onto the advantage for almost the entire last day, which proved much less demanding than the previous day, but then had to withdraw with technical problems just a few kilometres from the finish.

Jade Gudzeit was the first over the finish line just before Rory Mead while Birch, who had practically achieved the impossible and made up almost two hours but times were adjusted by the organizers and Birch was declared winner in front of Mead and Gutzeit.

1. Chris Birch, New Zealand, KTM
2. Rory Mead, New Zealand, Yamaha
3. Jade Gutzeit, South Africa, BMW