With the BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy coming to Chile and Argentina for the first time, there is plenty of excitement in Latin America. Many of these countries have already completed pre-qualifying tournaments, from which the most successful riders were recently sent to Panama to compete in the GS Trophy Regional competition for the Latin America.
After six local events in different countries of the region, the top 20 riders from Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama, Peru and the Dominican Republic faced a series of new challenges when they contested the Regional Qualifier at the action sports resort in Punta Chame, Panama, to compete for a place in the International Grand Final.
The spirit of motorcycling was very much alive and kicking at Punta Chame, as BMW Motorrad fans rolled up from many of these countries to support their countrymen. The prize on offer was the chance to win one of three coveted places on the Latin American team that will contest the third International GS Trophy from November 24 to December 2, 2012. Many of these fans arrived on motorcycles, including a large group from Costa Rica, to cheer on all participants at this important regional qualifier.
During two days of competition in the spectacular scenic surroundings of Punta Chame the riders had to overcome several special tests to show their team spirit, organizational and leadership skills. Last Saturday, participants were tested on their ability to work together with group tasks such as digging a bike out of deep mud. Other tasks required technical capacity, coordination and team organization. Add to this a navigation trial of more than 19 miles (30 km) on roads, in a forest and on the beach and it was undoubtedly a tough first day’s competition. Tired, but enthused by the day’s activities, everyone ended the first day of competition by relaxing in front of a big campfire in the spectacular atmosphere of the Nitro City Sports Resort.
On Sunday, it was up to individual riders to show their experience and skills in a variety of complex situations such as off-road riding through a water crossing, traversing a sand passage and negotiating a steep hill descent without using the brakes. One of the most difficult tasks the competitors encountered was when they had to pass over a big rock, which required riding skills of the highest standard. In fact, only some of the participants were able to overcome this tricky obstacle.
In the end, the regional qualifying competition drew to a close and the three winners were announced late on the Sunday afternoon. Having the honor of representing Latin America in the forthcoming International GS Trophy finals will be Carlos Pelaez of Colombia, Alejandro Barrios of Costa Rica and Peru’s Renato Ilbert Dongo.
Although there could only be three winners chosen to go forward to the finals, all participants and spectators that made the journey to Panama to enjoy the regional qualifier had a great time and shared in the unique atmosphere of community and camaraderie present whenever GS riders get together. The pleasure of competing in a variety of team exercises, adventures and challenges over the course of the weekend was without a doubt an unforgettable experience for not only the contestants, but also for those spectators who came to support their friends and family.