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Well done, SA! How this local team won its third BMW International GS Trophy

2020-03-05 14:00

Dries van der Walt

bmw gs,motorbikes,off-road

Image: Dries van der Walt

After eight grueling days, and over 2500km traveled over both the North and South islands of New Zealand, Team South Africa emerged victorious at the seventh BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy, winning the coveted international trophy for the third time.

22 teams, with participants from over 40 countries, took on the challenge in mostly comfortably temperate conditions. However, they also experienced the unique Kiwi phenomenon of ‘four seasons in one day’ with overnight temperatures plummeting and the riders having to combat rain and wind. The event was marked by elevation changes, with riders also finding themselves everywhere from sea level – on the North Island beaches – to thousands of feet up alpine passes in the South Island.

The mount for this year’s event was the new F 850 GS, which more than proved itself as being up to the rugged task. Many of the riders expressed their satisfaction in the bike’s versatility and performance, saying it proved capable on both highways and the trails.

bmw gs,motorbikes,off-road

                                Image: Dries van der Walt

SA impresses

The Oceania 2020 edition will be recorded in International GS Trophy history as one of the closest competitions yet. Going into final day, three teams – South Africa, Italy, and France – were in close contention for the win, with less than 10 points splitting them. Things got tense when Team SA suffered an uncharacteristic fall after the first test of the day, leaving the competition to hang on the outcome of the final parkour test. However, South Africa rallied impressively, putting in three almost immaculate rides, while the pressure to attack forced France and Italy to make some mistakes.

Despite taking the final honours, the South Africans did not dominate the 2020 event. South Korea headed the leader board for the first three days, with France taking over the lead on day four. However, the South African team was always in contention. From day five to the end, they headed the leader board, albeit by the slimmest of margins as France and Italy proved tenacious in their pursuit.

Although the International Female Teams did not score the successes they desired, they rode strong and scored well on occasional tests. Their high point came on the marathon 440km sixth day, when the two female teams, riding together, both started and finished the day at the head of the pack. Bearing in mind this day also included an arduous 110km technical off-road section through the Mackenzie high country – with a fair few deep-water crossings – this was an impressive display of both technical riding and endurance.

bmw gs,motorbikes,off-road

                                Image: Dries van der Walt

Solid preparation, excellent teamwork

But in the end, it was Team South Africa’s year yet again. Solid preparation, excellent teamwork – paired with a great sense of camaraderie and a fun attitude – saw them prevail. 

Says team member Brandon Grimsted: “We had a fun week, we thoroughly enjoyed it, and honestly it was some of the best off-road riding I’ve done in my life. Holding just a five-point lead into the final day was scary, and we were nervous, over-thinking everything, and that led to problems in the penultimate test, but we got back up, and for the parkour final we set a fast time with super-clean riding, and that won it for us.

“As a team, we were already close, but the week of being in each other’s company all the hours of every day has bonded us for life! And the friends we’ve made along the way, from all these different nations – well, it makes the experience complete.”

With previous wins in the South East Asia and  Central Asia editions, and now in Oceania, as well as being runners-up positions in the North America and South Africa editions, South Africa has clearly shown the world that we are a force to be reckoned with in adventure riding. And we've certainly become the most successful nation in the history of the event.

bmw gs,motorbikes,off-road

                                Image: Dries van der Walt



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