(lifePR) (München, )Extreme Enduro specialist Andreas Lettenbichler and Cross Country ace Simo Kirssi carried the banner for Team BMW Husqvarna Motorsport during the 43rd Roof of Africa, held past week in the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho.
The race is known to be one of the gnarliest extreme events in the world. It certainly lived up to its reputation once again.
While Kirssi competed for the first time as an additional season ender, Lettenbichler entered the African legend with some serious ambitions - and an outstanding score to settle. In 2009, the Bavarian lost a potential win just a few kilometers from the finish line. This year Lettenbichler would experience a much happier outcome, finishing a dramatic and highly emotional Roof on the podium.
The three-day running through the Maluti Mountains offered beautiful scenery, varying high routes between 1,500 and 3,500 meters altitude and a lot of hard work for the riders. The team for the first time had prepared Husqvarna WR 300 bikes for Lettenbichler and Kirssi, but there hadn't been a lot of time to set the machinery up for the extreme conditions.
"Letti" took it easy during day one. The course was fast and winded 120 km through the Lowlands. The friendly German ended in 11th place, Kirssi took seventh. As expected, the second day was much harder. The already demanding route became a lot tougher after heavy rain. Lettenbichler used all his experience and stormed into third place, before losing his way and 30 valuable minutes. "I wanted too much and lost concentration for a moment," he explained. He still finished the day in 10th position, four places behind Kirssi, who held himself up very well considering his debut.
The all-decisive final day led the riders for 150 km mainly over donkey trails. Lettenbichler, still embarrassed by his mistake, immediately began an aggressive charge from behind. Starting with a 22-minute handicap, he steadily gained time on front-runners Chris Birch and Jade Gutzeit. "Letti" was back in third before the ultimate challenge came at the Bushman's Pass. But his frantic chase had costed too much energy.
Lettenbichler had no reserves left and found himself settling for third place - still an amazing result.
Team-mate Kirssi meanwhile had made it into fifth place. Yet the frequent Cross Country winner suffered bad luck with only two kilometers to go to the final fuel stop. The Finn ran out of gas and had to wait forever until a fair competitor helped solve the misery. Kirssi eventually crossed the line in 12th place. "What can you do, that's racing," he commented with a taste of bitterness.
Both Husqvarna riders promised to be back. They were as impressed as their fellow competitors. The Roof 2010 ended as an excellent extreme event, certainly one to become part of the upcoming WXEC Extreme World Championship.
Roof of Africa 2010
1. Chris Birch (NZL), KTM, 18:24:25 hrs total time 2. Jade Gutzeit (RSA), Yamaha, 18:43:34 3. Andreas Lettenbichler (GER), Husqvarna, BMW Husqvarna Motorsport, 19:05:57 4. Paul Bolton (GBR), KTM, 19:12:56 5. Craig Stone (RSA), KTM, 19:29:34 6. Wynand Badenhorst (RSA), Yamaha, 19:33:22 7. Darryl Curtis (RSA), KTM, 19:41:52 8. Lionel Seydoux (SUI), KTM, 20:18:10 9. Altus De Wet (RSA), KTM, 20:29:05 10. Michael Skinner (NZL), KTM, 21:04:58 12. Simo Kirssi (FIN), Husqvarna, BMW Husqvarna Motorsport, 21:29:27