With Forster out for the 2009 Roof of Africa, BMW puts together an all-star team to take on KTM’s Chris Birch.
Three months remain before the start of the 2009 Baboons Lesotho Sun Roof of Africa, the most grueling motorcycle endurance event in Southern Africa. This three day event in the heart of Lesotho ultimately tests man and machine. In 2008, 5 time New Zealand Enduro Champion, 27-year old, Chris Birch ran KTM proud when he took overall honours from South Africa’s Jade Gutzeit on a Yamaha and Darryl Curtis on another KTM.
Half-way through the last day of the 2008 event, one of Birch’s biggest rivals on the international circuit, the 41-year old German, Gerhard Forster was forced to retire due to a shoulder injury. Well the sad news is that the world class BMW competitor will not compete in this year’s Roof as a result of that same shoulder injury.
However, it is not safe to go back in the water, because BMW is sending a team of four highly competitive riders to the ‘Mother of Enduro in Africa’ with 35-year old German, Andreas Lettenbichler, and current Austrian champion, one of the best European riders, Rudi Pöschl, a former KTM champion, alongside two of the top South African racers, Jade Gutzeit and Gray Dick, all competing on the BMW G 450 X.
When you look at last year’s European Championships and two of the most grueling Enduro events for 2009, it is obvious that the 2009 Roof is going to be a top order race amongst the the leading riders. All the names shown are entrants to the 2009 Roof.
2008 – XCC European finale Mattighofen, XCPro class results
6 Rudi Pöschl (Austria) KTM
10 Gerhard Forster (Germany) BMW
2008 – European Championship, XCPro class
3 Rudi Pöschl (Austria) KTM
2009 – Erzberg Rodeo XV – Results RED BULL HARE SCRAMBLE
3 Andreas Lettenbichler (Germany) BMW 2:25:17
8 Chris Birch (New Zealand) KTM 3:55:01
9 Gerhard Forster (Germany) BMW 3:58:21
15 Jade Gutzeit (South Africa) BMW 4:19:05
16 Darryl Curtis (South Africa) KTM 4:21:21
21 Louwrens Mahoney (South Africa) KTM 4:47:25
2009 – Red Bull Romaniacs
1 Andreas Lettenbichler (Germany) BMW 20:29:11
2 Chris Birch (New Zealand) KTM 21:21:01
6 Darryl Curtis (South Africa) KTM 23:41:36
When seeing just how competitive Gerhard Forster is, it is really a shame that he will not compete this year.
What is very pleasing at the same time is the name of the KTM rider, Darryl Curtis appearing so high up on the international events. BMW’s Jade Gutzeit and KTM’s Louwrens Mahoney are highly competitive South Africans who both won numerous SA titles. They also performed well in this year’s Erzberg Rodeo.
BMW is so serious about the Roof, they are not just sending out competitors to the event, but also their Teammanager, Wolfgang Fischer to attend and oversee the team of four riders.
At the finish of the 2008 Roof, the local riders admitted that they were beaten fairly, but they immediately said that they will up their game in training and racing to be ready for the next Roof. Appearing on the lists of top international finishers definitely indicates the commitment of the South Africans and their effort in attempting to up their game. Question remains, will the additional exposure, experience, training and their local knowledge enable them to outride the likes of Birch and Lettenbichler.
One thing is definite; the 2009 Roof of Africa will unquestionably be extremely challenging and probably one of the biggest international clashes in the history of the race. We will keep you posted on the progress and the build-up to the 2009 Baboons Lesotho Sun Roof of Africa Rally.
For more informations please check out www.roof-of-africa.com