The 2016 Int. GS Trophy teams were treated to a wonderful mix of riding conditions and challenges, as the route took participants on a 136 kilometre loop that was tailor-made for adventure riding enthusiasts. Although only half the distance of yesterday’s stages, in the intense heat it was just as tough, and in time, nearly as long as anything they had encountered so far.
Leaving the bivouac at Camp Salawin, the teams rode through scenic parkland trails before dropping down into a valley where, riding first-and-second gear single-track, they zig-zagged across mountain streams, tackled rocky sections, traversed footbridges over ditches and made their way to the first Special of the day – ‘Heavy Rain’ – after 21 kilometres.
Naturally, this special involved water, and all the participants enjoyed the challenge of riding 150 metres through the river as a team and then answering a series of questions, all against the clock. Ten kilometres later, they faced the second Special – ‘Big Timber’ – which naturally involved logs, motorcycles and lifting! With the engine off, the team had to haul one of their BMW bikes over a huge tree and then park it on its side-stand. Strong muscles helped, but technique was just as important and this was a defining moment for the ladies’ team, who showed that ‘practice makes perfect’ by completing this exercise in good time and good shape. The searing midday heat saw the Japanese team cool off – in full rider gear – by jumping into the nearby creek!
The picturesque mountainous route then saw the competitors skirt the border between Thailand and Myanmar, just a stone’s throw across a deep, fast-flowing river. The riverbanks and hillside villages, with houses on stilts so typical of this region, and bustling streetlife offered many opportunities for the teams to be entertaining and creative as they searched for the ideal picture location for the upcoming photo competition (voting closes on Thursday at 10.00 CET).
A long ascent into the mountains swiftly followed. At around 1,000 metres, the riders were treated to some fast, wider sandy tracks along the ridges that allowed them to really open their throttles for a change, and let their GS bikes breathe, while they took in the lovely vistas. A fast descent took them through valleys peppered with villages and then onto a final tar section for a travel-guide ride-in across verdant, cultivated fields back to Camp Salawin.
On arrival, their odometers were reading around 140 kilometres for the day but everyone agreed that it felt more like 280. However, things weren’t finished yet, as a third Special awaited the teams once the sun went down.
Entitled ‘Camp Champ’, this trials challenge was watched by all teams, organisation staff, event caterers and just about everyone associated with the GS Trophy ‘circus’, adding considerable pressure at the end of an exhausting day.
A special mention must go to the brave trio of ladies who have made GS Trophy history by becoming the first ever female team to ‘take on the boys’ at this special event. This is what they had to say about their Trophy experience so far.
Morag Campbell, South Africa: “The support from the guys is phenomenal, they cheer for us, they call our names individually, it’s really nice. They’re behind us on every task and when we are out on the trails they are so much fun.”
Amy Harburg, Australia: “I’m surprised how the locals are interacting with us. When we stop they come to us and that is so nice, it gives an extra dimension. They probably wouldn’t be like this with tourists. And when we ride past, first they see the bikes, then they see Stephanie’s hair and they do a double-take!”
Stephanie Bouisson, France: “The whole event is fantastic, as it was in South Africa too. The reactions are interesting from all the locals. I offer them the Thai greeting and they love that too. It’s an amazing event, in an amazing country.”
On the conclusion of the final Special, all points were added up and revealed to the teams. After day four of seven, Team South Africa are still on top, with Team Germany and Team UK rounding out the top three.
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Results BMW Motorrad Int. GS Trophy 2016 Day Four:
1 South Africa 164
2 Germany 149
3 UK 148
4 CEEU 147
5 Latin America 144
6 Brazil 141
6 China 141
8 USA 122
9 Argentina 114
10 France 112
10 Mexico 112
12 Canada 105
12 Italy 105
14 Russia 99
15 South Korea 84
16 International Female Team 78
16 South East Asia 78
18 Japan 75
19 Alps 72