It was a day of contrasting fortunes for the leading riders from Thursday’s Prologue, and demonstrated once again that in Lesotho, things can change in an instant.
In the Gold Class, overnight leader Travis Teasdale (Beta Racing) surrendered his advantage over to Paddock prodigy Young.
After being passed by Young, he lost touch and dropped back. Once he’d overtaken Teasdale, Young didn’t look back. His total race time of 8h28’30” gave him a lead of just under 40 minutes by the end of Day One.
While Young was alone for most of the day, a real tussle was going on just behind Teasdale for third place.
As impressive clouds gathered overhead, Dwayne Kleynhans (Brother Leader Tread KTM) managed to hold off Paddock’s Kyle Flanagan (Bidvest bLU cRU Yamaha) by one second, with rising star Lloyd Kirk (also Bidvest bLU cRU Yamaha) a further seven seconds back.
By working together, these three riders from competing teams had managed to share navigational duties and make up time on the leading duo – an approach that perfectly embodies the spirit of the Roof.
Indeed, several riders asserted that this had been “a proper Roof” and that as well as a number of new technical passes, the scrub and rocks in between had been relentless and “in your face”.
Not that this seemed to have slowed down Friday’s winner: Young remarked that he “felt great” after a gruelling day in the saddle, and that he was ready to take on Day Two.
While Young has what might seem a comfortable cushion over his rivals, the heavy rains forecast for Friday night and Saturday mean that the overall result for this year’s Roof of Africa is far from a foregone conclusion.
In the Silver Class, South Coast rising star Kayde Mante (RBS Yamaha) lost his lead to Warren Barwell (KTM) but is a mere one second behind, with Paul Grobler (KTM) occupying third spot at the end of the day.
The Silver Class riders had a lot of new tracks to contend with, which made navigating more difficult.
Despite the challenges of Thursday’s very wet time trial, the feedback from the Bronze Class riders was also very positive, and it was clear from those competitors who stopped at the Designated Service Point that the Roof was more than living up to their expectations.
Matthew Burger (Leader Tread Husqvarna) was the first Bronze rider home, with Vincent Labuschagne (on one of 3 KTM 500’s in the event ) in second and Hannes Saaijman (KTM) in third.
At the time of going to press, over 100 Bronze Class competitors were still out on the course – proving once again that the 2018 Motul Roof of Africa deserves to be known as the Mother of Hard Enduro.