A seven-day test of strength.
"The sixth edition of the International GS Trophy was not for the faint of heart: teams had to endure seven days full of special challenges and highly intense daily stages in temperatures of over 30 degrees. These included exhausting river crossings, arduous journeys through mountainous regions and difficult agility challenges.
"The competition was tough and exciting from beginning to end," remarked Heiner Faust, Head of Sales and Marketing at BMW Motorrad. And he was not exaggerating: The Int. GS Trophy 2016 was quite something. Challenges with names like "Broken Bridge", "Pit Stop", and "Helicopter Pad", only hint at the kind of demanding tasks facing the participants.
Over the seven days, GS riders had to complete a total of 19 tests, all requiring riding skills, agility and team spirit. But the special tests were not the only reasons for participants to break out in a sweat. Temperatures of over 30°C brought to mind the 2010 Int. GS Trophy in South Africa. Together with the high humidity of Southeast Asia, it was among our hottest events ever.
Wet clay soil and knee-deep mud
Glimpses of the International GS Trophy.
Equipment for the enduro adventure
No one said it was going to be easy for the participants. The adventure started right from day one: a heavy thunderstorm made the first stretch impassable, forcing organisers to find an alternative route. Participants covered around 180 kilometres during the first stage from Chiang Dao to Pai. For many of the riders, the difficulties they faced on the route and two tricky tests were not the only hurdles: they drive on the left-hand side in Thailand. Team Argentina was best able to manage the task and finished the day in top place.
It should have been a fast-paced 1,686 metre climb. But the winding mountain passes provided for some spine-tingling moments for the teams. This together with three tough challenges made their lives especially difficult: The motorcycle know-how, riding skills and team spirit of the drivers were put to the test. The last stretch led the riders through the jungle to Mae Hong Son. At the end of the second day the riders were exhausted but happy when they finally crashed on the air mattresses inside their tents.
From Mae Hong Son the route went through various mountainous regions to Mae Sariang. The roads were ideal for fast riding. GS riders covered 265 kilometres on their R 1200 GS motorcycles. Two tricky tests had been organised for the third day.
On Wednesday, the GS riders took on 136 kilometres in a loop around Mae Sariang and ended at the border between Thailand and Myanmar. The view across the border to Myanmar was breathtaking for the riders. The teams also got to see stilt house villages, remote forests and small Asian farming villages on this stage of the journey. The tripmeter read 140 kilometres for this day of the competition – but for the riders it felt more like 280 kilometres. No wonder: On this day, the riders also had to complete some difficult special tests. Riders had to cross through the water and manoeuvre the motorcycles over a tree trunk for the tests.
East-bound for 270 kilometres and nine hours straight: things really got serious at the half-way point of the Int. GS Trophy. The riders were required to take on some sharp turns during the special test. Another exercise put the riders' sense of direction to the test. Riders began to sweat profusely from the heat and exertion during the tough tests, which they had to complete in full motorcycle gear. On the fifth day the teams had yet another opportunity to take part in a photo competition to earn extra points. Team China won the photo competition for this day with over 7,000 votes.
Dr. Ralf Rodepeter, Head of Marketing at BMW Motorrad
On the sixth day, the 157 kilometre long route continued on the infamous Ho Chi Minh Trail, well known for its extra-narrow paths. Two special tests were arranged for the teams: an exercise in navigation and a relay race. The riders demonstrated amazing skill during these difficult tests. "That was definitely one of the hardest tests on a GS. It's unbelievable what this motorcycle can do", says Ralf Rodepeter, Head of Marketing at BMW Motorrad. The exertion and exhaustion experienced by the teams over the previous several days was clear to see on the second to last day. But giving up was out of the question.
The adventure of the Int. GS Trophy 2016 was approaching a close. But there was still a lot at stake for the teams in the last few kilometres. Participants could earn double points for the final special test. So the teams just gave it their all, especially during the last test, which required them to negotiate hilly stretches and obstacles. The route for the daily stage passed through the forests and mountains of Thailand. Additional Enduro riders from Thailand, Malaysia and China joined the participants in support for their final test. The euphoria among the whole group of motorcycle enthusiasts was huge and made for an unforgettable finish to the Int. GS Trophy. Ultimately, Team South Africa made it to the top and won the Int. GS Trophy 2016 with a lead of 31 points, followed by Germany and Great Britain.