After seven days of intense, yet friendly competition, nearly 1,400 kilometres of memorable riding and a whole week’s worth of unforgettable daily Special tests, the GS Trophy Southeast Asia 2016 reached its conclusion with Team South Africa crowned the deserving winners by a margin of 31 points.
The trio of John Harris, Byron Coetsee and Charl Moolman had led the competition since its second day and although they were pushed hard by both Team Germany and Team UK until the very last Special on the final day, they kept their cool under considerable pressure and in so doing, took the Trophy home to South Africa for the first time. In a historical first for the GS Trophy, two teams were tied for second place – Team Germany and Team UK.
“I speak for the entire BMW Motorrad community when I say that we are absolutely delighted and very proud of Team South Africa’s victory. The International GS Trophy is a showcase of riding skills and team spirit and Team South Africa rose to the challenge. We have always performed well at the Trophy but this victory confirms that the caliber of South African riders is world-class,” says Alexander Baraka, General Manager, BMW Motorrad South Africa.
Having come close to Trophy honours several times before (second place in 2010 and 2014), Team South Africa are delighted winners: “Relief is the first emotion, then happiness,” explains Byron Coetsee. “South Africa’s track record in the event has been seconds and thirds, we even missed out on the win in 2010 by as little as one point, so to finish like this, it’s like the weight of the world is lifted off our shoulders. We share this achievement with our previous GS Trophy team riders.”
When the day started, there was still everything to play for, with only 19 points separating the top three teams. And with double points on offer for the final Special, there was hope for all teams as the opening Special began. It came just 20 kilometres out from the starting point in Chae Son and was entitled ‘Twisted Turn’. In essence it was a team exercise to clear a series of ever tightening turns on a two-tiered course, with the usual penalty points for feet touching the ground or dropping the bike. It was inspiring to watch the slow-speed control and balance of certain riders, especially the female trio who showed fantastic skills and technique in this exercise. Team Brazil were, however, the winners of this Special.
There were many more highlights to follow, with a wonderfully flowing section through a pine forest high in the mountains followed by an extended and sinuous mountain-descent on tarmac to clearly demonstrate the versatility of the BMW R 1200 GS. This was then followed by a rendezvous at 126 kilometres with around 100 riders from Thailand, Malaysia and China, who had travelled in on their BMW bikes to support the GS Trophy. For the final 50 kilometres ride-in to the Rim Doi Resort in Chiang Dao, these enthusiastic, friendly riders joined the Trophy teams and marshals, and helped by a huge convoy that snaked its way to the location for the final Special test of 2016.
The final Special test took place at a neighbouring motocross training track, much to the delight of the teams, who made it their business to show exactly how a big adventure bike like the BMW GS can be hustled around a tight, twisty track with a skilled rider at the controls. With crowds of enthusiasts lining the circuit and cheering the teams all the way from their Le Mans-style starts through bumps, turns and whoops to a challenging steep uphill finish, it was an exciting and apt way to end the riding part of the Trophy. This final Special was won by a dominant Team South Africa.
As for the GS motorcycles, they held up remarkably well considering the extreme hard use they were subjected to over the past seven days and more than 1,300 kilometres of competition. Despite being dropped off ‘broken bridges’, dragged through boulder-strewn river crossings, hauled over huge logs, and ridden hard across every type of terrain and obstacle imaginable, there has been hardly any damage at all to the fleet of over 100 BMW R 1200 GS and GS Adventures. A few tyres were changed due to punctures, a couple of clutches and coolers replaced, as have a few mirrors and levers, but there were no technical failures at all. All this is a testament and confirmation of the indestructible nature of a BMW GS, as well as the great job done by Original BMW Motorrad Accessories in protecting the bikes.
At the final evening celebration and points announcement, Heiner Faust, Vice President Sales and Marketing, BMW Motorrad said, “I’m so pleased we staged this latest International GS Trophy in Southeast Asia and welcomed riders from across the globe to this wonderful region, including our first ever female team who were truly inspiring. Once again the competition has been tough and exciting from start to finish. As all of the teams have discovered, Thailand is an amazing place for adventure motorcycling, especially when you are riding with new friends who share exactly the same passion as you. This passion has been reflected by the thousands of enthusiasts worldwide who have been following the Trophy online via our various social media channels.
“The BMW Motorrad community has truly engaged with the spirit of the GS Trophy and we’re sure that this success story will continue for a long time.”
Team South Africa crowned BMW Motorrad champions