Team ends season in style at Roof of Africa
Pepson Plastics Husqvarna Racing finished its season in fine style on the Motul 50th Roof of Africa — the so-called mother of hard enduros in Lesotho’s Maluti Mountains over the weekend.
Headed by defending Roof champion, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider Graham Jarvis and backed by South African OR2 champion Brett Swanepoel, SA Junior champion Matthew Green and leading lady rider, Spanish lass Sandra Gomes, the team was faced with unseasonal snow in the Malutis at the start on Wednesday, but the weather improved as the race progressed to see Jarvis home third overall on Saturday afternoon, with Green 20th and Gomes 30th as only the second lady rider to ever finish in the premier Gold class.
The action started with the team taking it easy on Thursday’s traditional, if freezing Roof of Africa Round the Houses races, where Swanepoel emerged 8th overall, Jarvis a cautious 14th, Gomes 30th and Green finding his way on his first taste of racing on the tarmac. From there it was into the Maluti foothills for the time trial, which proved disastrous for Brett Swanepoel who crashed out of the race. Brett ended in hospital with a fractured sternum before being released and returning home.
Graham Jarvis however took to the dirt like a duck to water and quickly powered his way to fourth by the end of the time trial, with Green happy in 28th and Sandra Gomes 34th. Then it was down to hardcore business on Friday with Jarvis coming home third overall following just over five excruciating hours in the saddle, with Green ending up 21st and Gomes 31st, before Jarvis consolidated his third place on Saturday, Green ended 36th and Gomes 32nd, with the trio respectively ending third, 20th and 30th overall.
“It was an interesting Roof,” Jarvis reflected at the finish after a tough three days including the infamous new Soldiers Pass climb, a sting in the tail that scales almost the entire height of the Maluti Mountains home to the finish. “Of course it would have been great to finish with a back-to-back victory, but I’m on the podium and my Husqvarna performed brilliantly to end off a great year on the bike very well. “Thanks for all the African hospitality and to the team for all the effort. “I’ll be back — see you all soon!”
“The Roof of Africa was such a good experience!” young race rookie Matthew Green admitted. “I am so happy to have finished up 20th in the top Gold class on my first attempt — thanks to everyone behind me and for all the support and to the Pepson Plastics Husqvarna team for believing in me — this is the start of a great relationship and I can’t wait to get back in the saddle…”
“I become the second woman in history to conquer the Gold Class of the Mother of Hard Enduros Roof of Africa,” an elated Sandra Gomes admitted after a race-long fight to defeat SA’s top lady enduro rider Kirsten Landman. “Thanks to my South African team and to everyone who made it possible for me to realise this dream — we did it!”
“That was a brilliant way to end off a great racing season,” Husqvarna Motorcycles South Africa brand manager Fred Fensham concluded. “We had a positive weekend overall with Graham Jarvis finishing up on the podium, Matthew Green 20th on his first Roof and Sandra in the top 30 and the second lady ever to finish the Roof of Africa in the Gold class. “Sadly our South African champion Brett Swanepoel was hurt when he crashed out on Thursday — we wish him a speedy recovery and look forward to having him back in the saddle soon.
“It’s been a hectic season for Husqvarna South Africa Racing with a race basically three out of every four weekends, so we need to say a special word of thanks to the heroic team behind our riders. “Each and every one of you makes an invaluable contribution — we salute every member of our brilliant team and all of you have now earned a good rest . “We look forward to being back, batteries recharged for the new season — roll on 2018!”