It was a thrilling final day at the BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy. After seven days of intense yet friendly competition, nearly 900 miles (1,400km) 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 winners by a margin of 31 points.
The trio of John Harris, Byron Coetsee and Charl Moolman had led the competition since day two 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. In doing so, they took the Trophy home to South Africa for the first time. In a first for the GS Trophy, two teams were tied for second place – Team Germany and Team UK.
When the last day started there was still everything to compete for, with only 19 points separating the top three. And with double points on offer for the final Special, there was hope for all teams as the opening Special began. It came just 12 miles (20km) from the start 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 demonstrated 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 R1200GS. Then followed a rendezvous at mile 78 (km 126) with around 100 riders from Thailand, Malaysia and China, who had traveled in on their BMW bikes to support the GS Trophy. For the final 30 miles (50km), a ride-in to the Rim Doi Resort in Chiang Dao, these enthusiastic, friendly riders joined the Trophy teams and marshals, and helped form a huge convoy that snaked its way to the location for the final Special test of 2016.
It took place at a neighboring 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 a super way to end the riding part of the Trophy. This final Special was won by a dominant Team South Africa.
As for the GS bikes, they have held up remarkably well considering the extreme use they have been subjected to over the past seven days 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, the damage done to the fleet of over 100 BMW R1200GS and GS Adventures has been minor. A few tires have been changed due to punctures, a couple of clutches and coolers have been replaced, as have a few mirrors and levers, but there have been no technical failures at all. All in all, it’s a welcome confirmation of the do-anything nature of a BMW GS, as well as the great job done by the additional Original BMW Motorrad Accessories in protecting the bikes.
All good things must come to an end, of course, and although the riding was over, there was still time for the final evening celebration and points announcement. The Trophy circus was joined by many invited guests from across Asia who were welcomed for the festivities.
Having come close to Trophy honors several times before (second place in 2010 and 2014), Team South Africa were delighted winners. “Relief is the first emotion, then happiness,” expressed an overjoyed 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.”
Heiner Faust, Vice President Sales and Marketing for 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.”
BMW Motorrad Int. GS Trophy 2016 Day Seven final results:
1 South Africa 299
2 Germany 268
2 UK 268
4 CEEU 254
5 Latin America 244
6 Brazil 242
7 China 234
8 USA 229
9 France 208
10 Italy 200
11 Argentina 188
12 Mexico 181
13 Russia 180
14 Canada 176
15 South Korea 146
16 Japan 138
16 South East Asia 138
18 Alps 117
19 International Female Team 116