CHRIS BIRCH FINISHES SECOND IN 2011 ROOF OF AFRICA
KTM’s Chris Birch narrowly missed taking his fourth consecutive Roof of Africa hard Enduro title at the weekend when he finished second behind Britain’s trials specialist Graham Jarvis but in front of his eternal rival in South African competition, Jade Gudzeit.
The grueling three day event in the southern African Kingdom of Lesotho is a traditional part of the racing calendar and in recent years it has been dominated by Birch, who hails from New Zealand but lives and competes in South Africa. It starts with a ‘round the houses’ competition in the capital which is followed by two tough days of extreme Enduro competition during which riders attack the wild mountain terrain, including some treacherous mountain passes for six-seven hours a day.
It was early on day two that Chris Birch crashed hard, face down with his bike on top of him, injuring his foot in the process, but he struggled to get back into the race and at the end of the first day there were only two minutes separated the three dominant riders. Chris also had a lucky break when, in the final run at the top of Bushman’s Pass and with the checkered flag in his sights, Gudzeit, then in second behind Jarvis, lost control of his bike and had to scurry down a very steep slope to retrieve it. This allowed Chris to slip past and steal second place.
Roof of Africa veteran Darryl Curtis (KTM) finished fifth and admitted that he was on a no-risk mission ahead of racing the Dakar Rally in South America (January 2012). He won a tight battle with the multiple UK Enduro champion and “Roof” rookie, Ben Hemingway (KTM) and only seconds separated them after the two exhausting days ride. KTM rider Brian Capper put in a strong ride to finish overall seventh. Other top 20 KTM riders in the Gold Class included New Zealander Michael Skinner, Wynand Badenhorst, Riaan van Niekerk and Gray Dick. Some 53 riders completed the full race distance in the Gold Class after battling with the terrain, the African sun, rain and even hail.
KTM riders Ryan Ackermann and Peter Jung took 2-3 in the Silver Class over a slightly shorter distance and Adrian Werner (KTM) won the Bronze Class with Dricky Morkel (KTM) in third place.
Results Gold Class
1, Graham Jarvis, Great Britain, Husaberg
2, Chris Birch, New Zealand, KTM
3, Jade Gudzeit, South Africa, Yamaha
4, Mark Torlage, South Africa, Yamaha
5, Darryl Curtis, South Africa, KTM
6, Ben Hemmingway, UK, KTM
7, Brian Capper, South Africa, KTM