The Roof of Africa bronze 2019 qualification motorbike race is set to start at Thaba Bosiu Cultural Village on Saturday (May 11 2019).
The race is a precursor for the main Roof of Africa Enduro which will be staged in the country between December 4 to 7 this year.
Speaking in an interview, Lesotho Off Road Association (LORA) Public Relations Officer Keketso Malebo said this is a mini race meant for only the bronze category qualification to reduce the number of participants for the main event Roof of Africa, as the number of participants tends to be too huge.
“The organisers of the event resolved to stage the qualification race in order to reduce the number of participants at the main event where more often than not one would find that due to limited space, elite participants are left out,” he stressed.
He said for the Bronze qualification, only those from neighbouring Southern Africa countries will be participating.
Malebo noted that the event will be divided into two loops which will be a 30-kilometre distance for the National Enduro which is only meant for entertainment where 57 participants from both Lesotho and other countries will test their riding skills.
He said the main event of the day will feature 333 riders in a 100 kilometre distance starting at the Thaba Bosiu cultural village, via Boinyatso through to Ha Ralejoe pass Mohlaka Oa Tuka up to the highlands at Makhetha pass and the Malehloane plateau to Lekhalong La Baroa and back to the starting point.
Malebo said all the opening and closing ceremonies will be done at Thaba Bosiu.
Asked if the event will have the capacity of spin offs similar to those of the main event, he said since riders from developed economies overseas will not be taking part, the gains will not be as much as those from the main event.
However, he said tourism and the economy still stand to benefit since those coming from other countries will also book into the local hotels and guest houses while also filling up their tanks from the local filling stations as well as buying Basotho’s handicrafts.
Approached for comment two local youths; Teboho Moretlo, 20, and Moshate Letlela, 17, promised to raise the national flag high with pride and that they will not disappoint.
However, Moretlo said he will only be aiming to finish the race and not to qualify for the main Roof of Africa rally as he would like to take it easy for now.
But Letlela, who hails from Botha Bothe, promised to give it a try to qualify for the December main event despite conceding that participants from other countries use more advanced equipment than the local riders and that there are more professionals with necessary back-up teams of mechanics and physiotherapists on standby should anything go wrong.
He cited that they also need a huge sponsorship for the equipment which is advanced and can withstand the rugged landscape of the country.
The Roof of Africa Rally attracts professional motorbike riders from as far as France, Germany, England and Italy, just to name a few.