The fifth-annual BMW GS Trophy got underway Sunday in the Rim Doi resort in Chiang Doi, Thailand, as 19 teams representing 25 nations began challenges aboard their respective R1200GS motorcycles.As the 57 riders and 21 journalists completed the two special challenges on Sunday, Team Argentina earned the lead with 36 points – two ahead of Team UK and four ahead of South Africa.
As for Team USA, which consists of Charles Lucht, Dennis Godwin and Thomas Asher, they finished 13th with 17 points.From the official BMW Motorrad report:The rider’s first taste of Thailand on two wheels was, for many, the first time that they had ridden on the left side of the road, but in truth that was the least of their worries, as heavy overnight rain had rendered the first off-road section of the Trophy impassable.Therefore, after a short spell on tarmac the riders were directed along an undulating 4×4 track that led for over 30 miles to the location for the first special test. Along the way the competitors rode past rice fields and tiny villages, with the occasional glimpses of elephants and water buffaloes, before arriving at the Special Stage, known as “Broken Bridge.”Here, the task looked simple, yet was anything but… Teams had to walk two bikes (with the engines running) down a track leading to the remains of a bridge, then push the bikes up and over an angled bridge section before lowering them over three feet to the ground below.What was fantastic to witness was the huge level of support for all the teams, by all the teams. This was especially evident for the trio of female riders (and their female embedded journalist) competing in their first GS Trophy, who were overwhelmed by how much cheering and encouragement they received from all the guys representing the “rest of the world.”This Special Stage was timed against the clock and the clear victors were Team Germany, displaying ruthless efficiency. There was another Special Stage in store for the teams later in the day, but first they were able to enjoy 35-mile section of trail that had for the most part dried out nicely despite the unseasonable rainfall, with only a few tricky wet clay sections to overcome or enjoy, depending on your perspective.The second Special consisted of a “slow race,” battled out on a sandy roadside layby, with each team lining up three abreast to literally take the longest time to ride from point A to point B, with penalties for feet down or stalling the engine. All three riders’ times were then added together to determine the result, which saw a comprehensive victory for Team South Africa, who were considerably “slower” than their nearest challengers.On completion of the slow race, the final 39-mile liaison treated the participants to some spectacular views, with mountain passes, village markets and the aromas of Thai street food almost as enticing as the wonderful section of twisting, winding asphalt that transported the Trophy competitors into a beautiful valley, bordered by forested mountains, towards their overnight stop at Pai, with big smiles on their faces.After a delicious dinner catered for by the travelling kitchens of the Shangri-La Chiang Mai, there was a country presentation by the teams themselves before the all-important ‘results of the day’ were announced. Despite not having won either of the day’s two Specials, it is Team Argentina who lead the standings after the first day of competition, with their pair of top-three finishes clearly showing that consistency might well be the key to GS Trophy success.Gaston Quiroga, Team Argentina, says: “This was a good day for us, we really enjoyed the ride in the morning, seeing the elephants was special, and the 4×4 track took us deep into the countryside, this was amazing rural Thailand, far from the tourist trail. We had two good tests too, on Broken Bridge it was important to manage the progress of the bikes logically, we copied the technique Germany used and that was a great help. We were delighted to do so well in the slow race although I was fearing for my bike by the end, with the engine racing and slipping the clutch it’s hard on a bike. To be leading is a wonderful surprise. We’re going to our sleeping bags tonight with big smiles!”
This week, Senior Editor Nic de Sena rides the all new Ducati Monster. Big changes have been made by Ducati–has the company ruined the considerable heritage of the iconic Monster–or are the changes worth it? In the second part of the show, we chat with Nick Ienatsch, Founder and Head Instructor at the Yamaha Champions Riding School. He says: “We aim to change your riding life by introducing you to Champions Habits: The techniques, approaches, skills, and the mindsets of the best riders in the world. These Champions Habits are the foundation of safety and consistency to whatever speed you ride, in any venue on any bike. Street riders, this is just as much for you as track riders. The best way to make safe riders is to make good riders.“ We hope you enjoy this episode!