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By Seleoe Nonyane
For the first time, the Roof of Africa introduces an Adventure Class division for its 54th edition to be staged from November 30 to December 2, 2023, in Lesotho.
The Roof of Africa is regarded as one of the most extreme endurance motorcycle sports worldwide and has turned out to be the most enthralling race.
It is the most daunting, arduous and challenging off-road race in Africa and stands unique on the world stage as is affectionately known as “The Mother of Hard Enduro”
The Lesotho Off-road Association (LORA) chairperson Mopeli Ntabe said numerous adventure riders come into the country hence the introduction of this division after their request to be included in the race.
LORA was founded in 1969 but officially registered in Lesotho in 2007 as an off-road sports association tasked with the promotion of sport and staging of motorsport in the country.
LORA is also the sole custodian of the Roof of Africa.
Ntabe said the division has about 50 riders, which increases the competitor count from 415 to 465. They will be competing in other four classes namely, Gold, Silver, Bronze and Iron.
Speaking at a press conference held at the Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation (LTDC) offices this week, Ntabe disclosed that 12 Basotho will be participating in the race, and one in the Silver division, one in the Iron division and 10 in the Bronze division.
He said for the first time more local sponsors are coming in, such as the LTDC.
At the same occasion, acting LTDC public relations manager Molapo Matela said the organisation has been rallying behind LORA.
He noted that is why the corporation decided to support the event as it is in line with LTDC’s mandate of attracting travellers to visit Lesotho and spend money.
Matela said the corporation contributes to the hosting of the event by assisting in various ways such as publicising the event on various media platforms and offering financial backup, funds permitting.
Additionally, he indicated, LTDC usually conducts sensitisation campaigns with LORA to encourage hospitable conduct among neighbouring villagers where the competing motorcyclists pass through.
He explained that due to its topography of wide valleys, challenging terrain, and gruelling tracks, Lesotho has become an ideal destination for adventure-seeking riders who are willing to put to test their endurance and unleash their potential.
“This feature makes the country a perfect and remarkable off-road playground for motorcyclists.
“The event is regarded as the rainmaker by the locals due to the economic spinoffs it generates for the host nation, thus most accommodation establishments around Maseru are fully booked during the tourney.
“Short-term employment is created in tourism and hospitality and wages are paid for administering the event,” he stated.
Matela added that the event creates demand in areas such as transportation, restaurants and selling of souvenirs, and this attribute makes sport and tourism to be complementary.
In conclusion, Matela said the Roof of Africa Rally exposes the breathtaking landscape and places of interest to spectators and creates prospects for other recreational activities such as camping, hiking and outdoor photography.