WADE Young, South Africa’s top biker retained his Motul Roof of Africa title on Sunday in Lesotho when he won one of the toughest biking competitions in the world for a record sixth time.
Nov. 30, 2021
6 min read
Young bags 6th Roof of Africa title
The Roof of Africa Rally champion, Wade Young
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He finished the 80.3km race dubbed the ‘Mother of Hard Enduro’ ahead of Travis Teasdale and Matthew Green, who appeared second and third, respectively.
Young, 25, appeared in second position in 01:29:11 during the time trial on Thursday, just a minute after Teasdale who finished first in 01:28:51 while Green was third in 01:32:46.
Young’s dominance took another level during the 80 km race on Friday, as he finished first in 07:40:15 while Teasdale and Green came second and third respectively.
Saturday saw the Kwazulu-Natal born rider appearing second behind Teasdale while Green settled for a fourth place in the gold class.
Sechaba Chabeli, local rider had an emotional finish in 16th position in the demanding silver class, in honour of his late father.
“I cannot believe I made it through the rain and dense fog, but position 16 is a great achievement for me. It is my first finish in this demanding race. It therefore means everything to me, I did this for my father who passed away in January, he wanted me to finish the race and I did, so thank you,” he told Roof of Africa media.
The event, which attracted over 400 riders from every corner of the globe including America and Europe, among others also featured eight up and coming local riders.
Keketso Malebo, one of the race organisers and the Public Relations Officer of the Lesotho Off-Road Association (LORA) told Metro that while the event was a great success, they however, encountered several challenges due to the heavy rains that fell during the duration of the race.
“Rain caused many setbacks, but fortunately we already had plans B and C. The race was expected to end at the Thaba-Bosiu Cultural Village but we had to change our plans and end it at Lekhalong La Baroa Pass on Saturday to avoid further complications such as muddy terrains,” he said.
“In less than 2km from the starting point in Thaba Bosiu, a rider fell into a deep hole full of water and he could not continue with the race.
“Another one fell off his bike shortly thereafter and broke both his arms. Along the way, many riders met complications but they helped each other, showing great team spirit. Some of the competitors were assisted by Basotho who pulled their bikes out of muddy terrains,” he said.
Malebo was quick to show that this year’s edition of the race did not feature as many foreign spectators as it usually does.
The annual event, he said normally attracts many spectators from Botswana, all over South Africa and Europe, but due to the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic, few were able to come over this time around.
Generally, the race contributes immensely to Lesotho’s economy as local hotels and guest houses accommodate a lot of visitors during this time of the year.
“There is no doubt that the absence of the famous ‘Round the Houses race’ has dealt spectators from the lowlands of the country a low blow.
“Street vendors who sell their ware in the streets of Maseru also missed out a lot on the opportunity to make their normal killing from trading with the foreign visitors,” he said.
The champion, Young, made another spectacular finish when he won the 2019 edition of the global race.
In 2012, the Red Bull hard enduro rider became the youngest racer to win the iconic motorbike enduro race and has had a close relationship with the event ever since.
After an incredible inaugural season of the FIM Hard Enduro World Championship, Young secured a third place finish, with 83 points after eight rounds at the 2021 FIM Hard Enduro World Championship.
The final chapter of the Championship, the 24MX GatzenRodeo which took place in Debrach – Germany, saw the Kwazulu-Natal-born Young battle through the race in 10 laps, finishing in a time of 1:31:29.006.
Some would say that winning one of the toughest hard Enduro races on the planet so early in your career is a fluke. But the manner in which he did it, beating second place by a full eleven minutes and finishing ahead of former winners such as 2011 victor Graham Jarvis (third) and three-time winner Chris Birch, speaks of a rider of class way beyond his years.
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In 2013, (then aged 17) he won the South African Championship in the Senior Off-Road class and took the title in the under-21 class. He also put in credible finishes at Harescramble and Romaniacs and was runner-up in the iconic King of The Hill event.
Then in 2014 Young took the big step up from heir apparent to main contender in the world of Hard Enduro. Not only did he win his second Roof of Africa title, but he also claimed both Ukupachu and King of the Hill Hard Enduro’s and stood on the podium at Red Bull Romainiacs and Sea to Sky.
On South African soil he successfully defended his overall South African Enduro championship title.
2015 saw him once again focused on the World Hard Enduro circuit with a fourth place at Romaniacs (he was on course for a much higher finish until he drowned his bike on the final stage) a third place at Sea to Sky and a second at The Roof of Africa.
In 2016 Young signed with Factory Sherco and started the year with a big win at Hell’s Gate. A crash at Sea to Sky (where he won the Forest Stage) saw him break a bone in his hand and put an unfortunate end to his season.
He bounced back in 2017 however, and so far has won the German Wiesel-X extreme enduro, King of the Hill Hard Enduro in Romania and the XL Lagares.
He followed this up with an epic 2018 winning three of the major global hard enduro events this year, taking out Red Bull Romaniacs, Red Bull Megawatt 111 in Poland and Sea to Sky in Turkey, among a string of other podium results. He then capped the year off by successfully defending his Roof of Africa title.
2019 saw him start strong with a runner up finish at the Extreme XL Lagares in Portugal. Unfortunately he spent some time on the sidelines during the middle of the season after having to withdraw from Red Bull Romaniacs due to the crash.
He came back strong during the latter part however, winning the American Hard Enduro Series (AHES) as well as stringing together a host of big results around the globe, including second place at Sea to Sky, winning the Uncle Hard Enduro in South Borneo, Indonesia in late November and claiming the one-day Wildwood Rock Extreme earlier the same month.
He also chalked up yet another Roof of Africa title – his fifth (and his third in a row). With that victory, Young cemented second place in the all-time Roof of Africa hall of fame ahead of Graham Jarvis (four victories) but getting closer to the legendary Alfie Cox, who has nine. Metro/Red Bull media