Gutzeit good to go for 'Roof'

2011-11-23 12:43

Quintin van Jaarsveld

Durban - Jade Gutzeit has overcome an injury scare and will lead the South African charge at the Roof of Africa this week.

Uncertainty surrounded the Proudly Bidvest Yamaha star’s participation in the 44th edition of the gruelling Lesotho enduro after a knock to the head during a recent race had left him with sustained vertigo problems and peculiar spells of nausea.

As the perennial best-placed South African rider in the Roof of Africa and runner-up to New Zealand ace Chris Birch (Comsol Alfie Cox Racing KTM) last year, Gutzeit’s possible withdrawal was met with wide-swept concern by the South African motocross fraternity.

The tough-as-nails Port Shepstone product, however, believes the severity of his injury was blown out of proportion. “It was over-exaggerated a bit. It’s not as bad as it has been made out to be,” Gutzeit told The Witness.
“I bumped my head a couple of weeks ago and upset my inner ear and have been having problems with my balance. The last week or so I’ve been off balance and dizzy and have been fighting it off with medication,” explained the 2003 Roof of Africa winner.

With concussion ruled out, Gutzeit consulted with a specialist on Monday who determined that he had damaged crystals in his inner ear, but cleared the reigning South African off-road champion to compete.

“I had it checked out and basically it’s just a matter of realigning and getting my body sorted out. It’s not dangerous to race so it’s all sorted out ... I’m good to go and ready to race,” he said. 

A star-studded field littered with leading international riders such as German Andreas Lettenbichler (Montage Print PTY Ltd) and the United Kingdom contingent of Graham Jarvis (Flite Extreme Husaberg), Paul Bolton (Brother Broadlink KTM) and brothers Dan and Ben Hemingway (Fever X/cc Gallery KTM) will tackle the traditional Round the Houses and a short technical time-trial on Thursday with the race set to get under way on Friday.

Jarvis, widely regarded as the world’s best extreme rider and winner of four of the five World Extreme Enduro events this year, will be racing in his maiden Roof of Africa and is considered as one of the favourites to win in the Lesotho Mountains. 

Gutzeit acknowledged Jarvis as a top contender, but said he is unfazed by the presence of the plethora of big-name internationals.

“I’m not too concerned about the large number of international riders this year. Graham Jarvis will obviously be a major threat because he’s just that good, but I don’t think he’s any more of a concern than Chris (Birch) is. I’m just looking forward to the challenge,” said Gutzeit.

The Witness