Wade Young (16) made history at this year’s Roof of Africa enduro motorcycle race, which took place for the 45th time in the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho, when he became the youngest competitor ever to win this gruelling three-day event, ridden over about 450 kilometres. It was also the first time since 2007 that a South African rider had won.
Extremely hot weather conditions caused many competitors to dehydrate while a challenging route confirmed the 2012 Roof of Africa enduro as one of the toughest in recent years.
Young, in his first ever attempt at the Roof of Africa, took on the world’s best extreme enduro riders, including the likes of the UK’s Graham Jarvis, who has virtually won every extreme enduro around the globe in the last two years and was the defending 2011 Roof of Africa winner. Young beat them by over 11 minutes at the end of the third day’s racing on his Yamaha YZ250F.
This is what the man himself had to say to Bikeroutes about his crazy ride.
Wade, first of all, bru I could not believe the result of this year’s Roof. Crazy ride. Congratulations. You have roosted some big shots.
Thank you very much.
Riding as you do on the age of 16, you probably went straight from the maternity ward to the motocross track. So, I have to ask: When did you begin riding?
Started riding when I was around eight years old and started racing competitively at nine years old.
And on what bike did you start, 250cc two stroke … 😉
You probably rode motocross first, did you? From when did you focus on enduro and off road?
No I didn’t start with motocross. I started riding around the farm area where I live (Paddock – inland from Port Shepstone) with Marc Torlage and he got me into racing competitively. I started riding the Junior Harescrambles and moved up from there.
This is my first year in the Senior Nationals.
You’ve been the Junior Champion a few times, is that right? Which years?
2005 Junior National 65cc Championship
2008 – 2010 Junior National 85cc Championship
2011 Junior National Open 250/125cc Championship
2012 2nd E2 (200cc Class) Senior National Enduro Championship
3rd Overall Senior National Enduro Championship
Was this your first time at the Roof, competing?
Yes my first time as I was too young last year. I did go last year as a spectator.
Did you think to yourself before the race that you had any chance of winning or doing really well?
It was always my plan to do well and win.
You have beaten racers such as Chris Birtch, Daryll Curtis and Graham Jarvis. People with a lot of experience. Guys who do crazy races like Romaniacs and even the Dakar. Do you realise that? And how does that feel?
Yes it has all sunk in and it is an awesome feeling.
What had the other racers to say about your mind-blowing win?
Everyone has been very supportive, including all the other racers. I have been riding with these guys for a number of years so they were all very chuffed for me.
How was it riding the Roof? What was the most tricky part?
The Roof was the toughest race I have ever ridden! It is also the first Extreme Enduro I have ever done.
The trickiest part was definitely the Push me Please and Pull me Please passes on the last loop.
What helped you stay in front?
My mind kept me in front – I kept myself positive at all times. And I also did a lot of endurance training both on and off the bike in preparation for the Roof.
Do you plan to do other hard endures, like Romaniacs, Ertzberg and so on?
My aim is to compete in the FIM World Enduro Series, but if I get the opportunity to do the extreme enduros I will do them.
Which race do you think is the craziest out there?
That I have raced? Definitely the Roof and the Dakar look pretty crazy!
Does your schoolwork interfere with your bike riding?
Yes, unfortunately it does.
Who is your favourite rider or role model?
Travis Pastrana – he is such a cool guy and has done some pretty cool things.
Report by Willem van der Berg
Photos of Wade: Elza Thiart