Quintin van Jaarsveld
The world’s elite extreme enduro motorcycle riders are braced for the ultimate challenge on the African continent, the Motul Roof of Africa, which gets underway in the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho on December 1.
International superstars such as defending champion Graham Jarvis, Alfredo Gomez, Andreas Lettenbichler and Billy Bolt will take on South Africa’s finest in what’s essentially a home race for riders from the republic.
Rising stars and passionate privateers will also descend on Lesotho looking to draw inspiration from the Gold Class competitors as they strive to complete the Silver and Bronze Class races.
Eleven South Coast riders will be in action; Wade Young (should he recover from injury in time), Kyle Flanagan, Blake Gutzeit, Scott Bouverie, Chayse Orsmond, Stuart Gregory and Tristan and Tyler Robins will test their mettle in the Gold Class, while Pierre Stapelberg, Jason Palmer and Josh Bailey are eyeing Silver Class success.
In a special Road to the Roof series, eHowzit gets these riders’ thoughts on their journey and what goal they’ve set for themselves for the 49th edition of the Mother of Hard Enduro.
Blake Gutzeit is hell-bent on returning to the Roof of Africa with a bang after missing last year’s multi-day extreme enduro.
The Oslo Beach ace opted to focus on the Maxxis FIM SuperEnduro World Championship and thus missed the 2015 Roof.
Gutzeit was there or there about throughout the junior class championship and looked primed for an overall podium finish as he enhanced his reputation as one of South Africa’s premier riders from Poland to Spain.
Those hopes, however, were dashed when he suffered a serious knee injury in the championship finale in Madrid, which sidelined him for several months.
After pushing himself through the rocky rehabilitation process, he shook off the rust in the Red Bull 111 Megawatt in Poland and Red Bull Sea to Sky in Turkey before finding his groove again in his most recent race, the GetzenRodeo in Germany, where he came away with fifth place.
The Proudly Bidvest Yamaha rider now hopes to finish the year on a positive note and is bullish about his Roof return.
“The Roof is up there with the biggest extreme events and it’s near home for us, which makes it really special and exciting. I’m very excited; I feel like I’ve missed out on last year’s edition and have lots of enthusiasm for this year,” he told eHowzit.
Gutzeit has unfinished business in Lesotho. After a phenomenal fourth place in 2013, he was curtailed by navigational issues the next year, and, after missing out altogether last year, Gutzeit is out for redemption.
“I’m feeling good about my riding and I’ll be really happy with a podium. I’ve shown in the past that I have the potential, now we need to get it done.”
He feels he has the perfect machine in his Yamaha YZ250X two-stroke and support system to land his first Roof podium and has left no stone unturned in training.
“I love the way the bike handles and doesn’t make you tired for those long eight-hour days. With a professional team like Proudly Bidvest Yamaha backing me, I feel really confident.”
He added: “Training’s been good. I’ve been in the Matatiele mountains a lot with some locals. I personally love it there…it’s just something about it that does it for me.
“Training at altitude definitely helps and I like to focus on long, tough rides which prepare you for what the Roof throws at us.
“Physically and mentally I’m ready, now it’s just touching up on a few things then we’ll be 100%.