SETIBING — Graham Jarvis lifted the 2011 Roof of Africa championship after beating three-time winner Chris Birch in a gruelling race at Lekhalong-la-Baroa last Saturday.
South African Jade Gutzeit finished third after he lost the close three-day battle with Birch a few hundred metres before the chequered flag.
Jarvis added the Roof of Africa race victory to his 2011 list that consisted of four world extreme enduro races, but admitted that racing for more than seven hours each day for two days made his first Roof of Africa experience quite tough.
They competed in the Gold Class where competitors had to tackle routes that included various treacherous mountain passes with a distance of 200 kilometres on both Friday and Saturday.
Jarvis, Birch and Gutzeit stuck together for the best part of the race with just over two minutes separating them at the beginning of the last day.
The UK trials specialist showed his skills on the more technical rocky climbs and took the lead halfway through the day to beat Birch by 22 minutes 10 seconds.
The 36-year-old Jarvis spectacularly crossed the finish the line at Lekhalong-la-Baroa (Bushman’s Pass) at 1.30pm after covering a distance of about 200 kilometres in seven hours 30 minutes with no clear signs of exhaustion.
Unlike his runner-up, Jarvis made the Roof of Africa look like just one of those easy races.
By the time he crossed the finish line he still looked fresh and comfortable with no signs of exhaustion.
This was Jarvis’ first African competition and despite getting lost more than three times along the routes, he still won the competition.
The Roof of Africa title was just yet another trophy for Jarvis who was crowned the new champ in the 2011 Wildwood Rock Extreme Motorcycle Challenge in Australia on Sunday, three days before competing in the Roof of Africa.
The five-time British Trials Champion only got time to rest on Wednesday afternoon before jumping on the bike on Thursday morning.
Speaking to the Lesotho Times moments after crossing the finish line, Jarvis said he had run many tough motorcycling competitions in the world but the Roof of Africa was the toughest.
“I have competed in many motorcycling competitions in the world which I thought were tough but I just found out that the Roof of Africa is the toughest in the world,” Jarvis said.
“My biggest problem in the race was getting lost several times and thus allowing my competitors to get closer and overtake me but I still managed to pull through and won the Roof of Africa.”
The new champion said that he was impressed with the route markings.
“I think the competition was well organised and the markings were clear and easy to follow,” he said.
Birch said he was not embarrassed to lose to Jarvis.
“I saw it coming a long time ago and to be honest, there is no shame in coming second to Jarvis,” Birch said.
“I mean he is the best in the world and I knew it was going to be extremely difficult to successfully defend my title,” he said.
Top five finalists:
Graham Jarvis — British riding on Husaberg
Chris Birch — New Zealander on KTM
Jade Gutzeit — South African riding on Yamaha
Mark Torlage — South African riding on Yamaha
Brian Capper — South African riding on KTM