From a field of nearly 100 enthusiastic and spirited entrants, Marcus Arrowsmith, Lutz Umnus and John Crockett were selected to represent Great Britain in the International BMW Motorrad GS Trophy this September in Canada. The three riders embodied the GS spirit and are BMW Motorrad fans through and through, with Marcus being runner-up in both 2010 and 2012’s UK Qualifiers and missing out on a place in each Team GB by just a handful of points. Representatives from BMW Motorrad UK and the instructors were all delighted and cheered Marcus on when he was announced as the best scoring competitor of the competition.
Long-time GS rider Lutz was joined by his family at the event. A favorite of the BMW Off Road Skills instructors, Lutz was warmly received by all present when he received his trophy. His first time entering the UK Qualifier, John Crockett delivered a storming performance and impressed staff and competitors alike.
In a two-day competition held in South Wales, also home to the BMW Off Road Skills school, riders from all over the UK and beyond came together for a celebration of all things GS, taking part in challenges, skill tests and events involving both ‘gelande’ and ‘strasse’. Hosted by Dakar racer and BMW Off Road Skills Chief Instructor Simon Pavey, and his team of instructors and volunteers from across BMW Motorrad UK, the event took place in the Brecon Beacons.
Entrants and their family and friends were invited to stay in the GS Trophy campsite along with the staff organizing the event – and many took up the offer, giving the event a festival feel. Rows of tents lined up alongside BMW motorcycles of every type, from the newest through to a stunning classic Bavarian police motorcycle and beautifully kept GS models from 34 years old to the latest 2014 versions.
In addition to entrants from across the UK, four dealership teams entered, with competitors from Vines of Guildford, Allen Jefferies and Rainbow Motorcycles in Yorkshire, and a contingent from Motorrad Central in Scotland who travelled down to take part.
However even they were not the furthest flung entrants, with ‘Team Belgium’ and their supporters riding across three countries for the thrill of taking part. Though they could not be eligible for the final in Canada, the Belgian riders were invited to come and enter and enjoy some British hospitality. Other notable entrants included father and son Peter and Oliver Twigg who both made it through to the final eight, repeat entrant Iain Cafferkey who was recovering from an injury and impressively made it through to the final 20, and a team from BMW UK head office who entered with the honorable plan of ‘not coming in last!’
Riders were sent out with a Dakar-style roadbook to navigate by and a list of challenges to complete, discovering their nature only upon arrival. With tasks ranging from tests of observation and lateral thinking en route, through to the truly unexpected (like delving underground in a warren of caves), tackling a mountain biking course and putting together a campsite, the UK Qualifier tested the skill, resolve and ingenuity of every rider.
The off-road riding sections took place in the stunning 4,000-acre Walter’s Arena, a huge and varied wilderness area that is the exclusive home of BMW Off Road Skills. It was here that Simon Pavey’s instructors put the entrants through their paces, with timed enduro sections and lap-based challenges on R1200GS motorcycles, and slow-speed trials sections that demanded precision and control.
The UK being the UK, of course, the weather was varied and presented as much of a challenge as some of the tasks. The first day was wet and dull, adding an extra level of complexity to the off-road riding tasks by making them even more slippery. But the UK’s riders were more than up to the challenge, taking on every test with good humor and high spirits.
Come the second day and the final 20 riders and the competitors who stayed on to support them were treated to blazing sunshine and beautiful warm weather. The final two tasks, which whittled the riders down to just eight potential candidates for Team GB, took place by the GS Trophy Campsite and pitched the competitors against two punishing trials courses. The instructors had upped the skill level required, putting together two fantastic courses created by former trials champion and BMW Off Road Skills instructor JP.
The finalists were sent around each course twice, the latter time reversing the loop and going ‘backwards’. The varied conditions and terrains were difficult to master, but the crowds cheering on the last eight kept their spirits high as they battled gamely on.
Shortly afterwards, the event hosts were able to announce that Marcus Arrowsmith, Lutz Umnus and John Crockett had been the best and brightest of all – and that they would be flying the flag for the United Kingdom come the final in September. The three riders were cheered on, and offered advice by, 2012’s Team GB riders Steve Rose, Cameron Thompson and Nick George, and ‘One World One R1200GS’ competition winner Stephanie Rowe, who joined the event to help choose and celebrate the next generation of British GS ambassador.
Lee Nicholls, Marketing Manager for BMW Motorrad UK, said, “It was an absolute pleasure to spend the weekend with so many enthusiastic and adventurous BMW riders. Despite some rather bad weather to begin with, everyone got right into the spirit of the event and took on some very varied and fun challenges. As we came down to the final, we found three fantastic riders who are very worthy of the title ‘Team GB’ and will give us a very good chance of bringing home the GS Trophy title for the second time.”
“So this was my third attempt at the GS Trophy UK Qualifier – and twice I just missed out on a place in the team and came fourth,” said winner Marcus Arrowsmith, 47, who rides a BMW R1200GS Adventure. “To come first today is brilliant. I’m so happy to have made it into the team… at last! The last time round I was beaten by one point by Steve Rose, who was judging one of the stages today – so I was much happier to see him this time!”
“It hasn’t sunken in yet! I’ve entered the Trophy before and I came 22nd, which I thought was as far as I would go,” said second-placed GS Adventure rider Lutz Umnus, 52, “To have got to the final, that was amazing. I never imagined I would have been good enough to be in the team. I’m so happy, but I need a bit of time to really realize I’ve made it. Wow.”
As for third-placed John Crockett, 50, the R1200GS Adventure rider said, “I had an absolutely brilliant weekend. I just came along thinking I’d have a nice weekend riding a motorcycle, and here I am, finishing third and off to represent the UK in Canada! It’s been so much fun – but I guess that’s only just the start of it now.”