Fight for Roof of Africa slots

NTHAKO MAJORO

MASERU – A total of 280 riders from both South Africa and Lesotho will battle-it-out for slots in the bronze qualifiers of this year’s edition of the Roof of Africa Rally scheduled for Roma from tomorrow. The main event, the 2018 Roof of Africa Rally, is set for December 5 to 8 in Roma. The competition’s chief marshal, James De Jesus, said they were expecting 276 South African riders for the weekend’s qualifier.

“Four of the 280 riders comprise Teboho Moretlo, Basia ’Maseatile, Tobatsi ’Maseatile and Timello Tšolo from Lesotho,” said De Jesus in an interview with Public Eye on Wednesday. The new kid on the block Tšolo will be making his debut appearance in the race, while Moretlo and the two Maseatile brothers have previously competed in the event. But none of the three local riders’ showing was up to scratch.

In last year’s edition, both brothers managed to race to the fine line while Moretlo pulled out before the end of the race. “This time around local riders are well and we expect better performance from them this year,” De Jesus said adding competitors would battle-it-out in two loops at the weekend qualifier. The terrain he said is too technical, adding: “The first loop will be 30km long while the second will be 52km. Our expectation is that a rider who will run the fastest time will finish the first loop in two hours, and the second loop in three and half hours.”

Time bar for the first rider, who will be expected to leave the first loop at 07:00, is 12:00. “The second time bar will be 2 hours and 30 minutes, while the third will be 4 hours and 30 minutes,” De Jesus indicated. Lesotho’s only silver class competitor, Joseph Motenane, is said to have targeted the weekend qualifier to help him intensify his preparations for the main Roof of Africa Race.

“Motenane is actually not going to compete but to race as part of training for the main event in December,” said the Lesotho Off-Road Association (LORA) spokesperson, Keketso Malebo. Malebo said Lesotho would also hold an off-road car race later in September. This kind of event used to be held in the country before with Malebo saying they have decided to revive it years after it went out of operation.

“We are already preparing a route for the car race. We have five local off-road car racers. One of the cars belongs to MGC, the two Makenete brothers, Katleho and Lehlohonolo, and the others are owned by LEO and Vennor Kennedy,” Malebo told Public Eye on Tuesday. He added that off-road competitors like the Makenete brothers also race in South Africa where they are performing quite well.

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