The organisers of the 2010 Roof of Africa race, one of the toughest dirt-bike enduro events in the world, starting on Thursday in Lesotho, have introduced a satellite tracking system that will allow them to follow the front runners while enthusiasts at home will be able to follow the leaders on-line.
Pretoria-based Fluxcon, a satellite tracking service provider with experience in satellite communication throughout Africa, has made a limited number of tracking units available on a trial basis to the organisers that will be mounted on the bikes of ten of the top competitors. Chris Birch (New Zealand), Andreas Lettenbichler (Germany), Simo Kirssi (Finland), Paul Bolton (Britain), Lionel Seydoux (Switzerland) and Gerhard Forster (Germany) will carry trial units, as will South African riders Jade Gutzeit, Darryl Curtis, Kenneth Gilbert and Shannon Frost.
It will be the first time that units such as these will be tested under these extreme racing conditions in Lesotho.
Tracking riders competing in the Roof has been problematic in the past due to the mountainous terrain but GPS devices might be the solution. They’ll not only increase the safety of the competitors, as the organisers will know where they are on the route, but will also allow enthusiasts at home to follow their progress.
There will be a link to the live tracking on the website www.roof-of-africa.com
However, it’s not only the top ten riders who will be looked after. This year all competitors will be wearing an arm band and by swiping these at certain points on the route, the electronic system will tell the organisers who has been through these checkpoints. All information will be relayed back to Race Control where the organisers can keep an eye on competitors.
Various marshals will also be in action for the race. This year the experienced Off-road Marshal Unit, who have served as marshals at major off-road races including the Kalahari 1000 Desert Race in Botswana, will have 11 teams on the routes. They will be in constant contact with the Race Control Office via radio.
The Off-road Marshal Unit will be supported by more than 80 Lesotho Off-road Association marshals who have been involved with racing in Lesotho for years and know the area well - and they’ll be supported by about 70 “community marshals” who will keep an eye on the enthusiastic local supporters and children living in the rural areas in the Roma, Ramabanta and Bushmans Pass areas. The community marshals are respected individuals in their communities and will fulfil their duties for the race with authority.
The organisers also have the use of two helicopters for the race. The Lesotho Defence Force helicopter will be used in case of medical emergencies while local business tycoon Sam Matekane has made his helicopter available to the various television crews that will be covering the race.
The 2010 Roof of Africa will start on Thursday (November 25) with the traditional Round the Houses race in the streets of Maseru, after which the riders will tackle Racing Section 1, a 140km route in the mountains on the outskirts of Maseru. Racing Sections 2 and 3 will follow on Friday and Saturday, each starting from Roma.