GS Trophy 2016: Day 6, The Toughest Day Yet

GS Trophy 2016: Day 6, The Toughest Day Yet

They say Thailand is the land of smiles and this was certainly evident today among all GS Trophy competitors as they faced up to, and overcame, their biggest riding challenges yet. The 98-mile (157-km) sixth day took in parts of the infamous Ho Chi Minh trail. There was a palpable tension at breakfast as chief marshal Tomm Wolf’s words were still ringing in the ears of the riders who had been warned to expect a seriously tough but ultimately rewarding day, where teamwork, support and intelligent riding would win the day.

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GSTropy16-Day6-15It was an early departure from the bivouac at Khun Tan and, with the points total so close, there was much that could be gained or lost during this important penultimate day of competition.

The first Special came some 17 miles (27 km) down the trail. And what a special! In essence a six-mile (10-km) single track section that in reality was a two-hour slog over the roughest terrain seen yet. And it was ridden in 99ºF (37ºC) heat and high humidity. The riders faced a never-ending succession of steep, unforgiving, rock-strewn paths that would be tricky enough on a small enduro bike, so a real test on a mighty BMW GS adventure bike. The top riders dazzled with their brave and often successful attacks on the climbs but were typically forced to park their BMW GS bikes and run back down the slippery slopes to help their less fortunate teammates – the difference between success and failure being the smallest unseen tree root or loose rock. The themes here were camaraderie and team spirit, and only by getting all your mates to the top of the hill could points be awarded. The reward at the top was a welcome rest and recovery on the shady banks of a mountain lake.

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The joy expressed by the riders on reaching the top of the trail was one of the defining moments of the 2016 GS Trophy. But the competitors still had plenty of riding ahead of them, so it was ‘onwards and upwards’ for the next 10 miles (15 km) with yet another super-committing hill climb claiming yet more ‘victims’. The teams then arrived at the second Special — a Trophy favorite — the towing exercise that, as ever, is harder than it looks. The task facing the teams sounded simple: use one GS to tow another up a mountain track, turn around an obstacle and come back down again, without stalling the engine, stopping or falling.

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After this exhausting challenge in the searing heat, the next 100 ‘clicks’ (60 miles) took the riders through a mountainous jungle region with incredible views from the endless switchbacks that demanded high levels of concentration from all. On arrival at the bivouac in picturesque Wassana Raja, there was no time for rest and relaxation because yet another Special awaited them. Called ‘Pit Stop’, it sounded simple enough and in the usual circumstances, a color-coded triple wheel change seems fairly straightforward, but combined with the mental tiredness that comes from almost a week of intensive riding, and mistakes can easily be made, especially when the clock is running. Keeping a cool head under pressure were Team UK, whose wheel changes were the slickest by far.

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The overall points were eagerly awaited this evening, and rightly so. Accompanied by a background chorus of cicadas and croaking frogs, BMW Motorrad’s marshal and member of the jury Christian Pingitzer revealed the latest standings. It was unchanged in the top three, with Team South Africa, Team Germany and Team UK remaining the strongest contenders for GS Trophy honors tomorrow evening. Twenty-four hours from now, the final result will be clear.

 

Results BMW Motorrad Int. GS Trophy 2016 Day Six:

1     South Africa                                                   242

2     Germany                                                        225

3     UK                                                                  223

4     China                                                              207

5     Latin America                                                205

6     CEEU                                                             199

7     Brazil                                                              188

8     USA                                                               187

9     France                                                            167

10   Argentina                                                       162

11   Mexico                                                            159

12   Italy                                                                 156

13   Russia                                                            154

14   Canada                                                          148

15   South Korea                                                   137

16   South East Asia                                             128

17   Japan                                                             108

18   International Female Team                           102

18   Alps                                                                102

 

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