Unlike in basketball where height – something that we Filipinos lack – can be a huge advantage, in motorsports, it is not that much of a requirement. In fact, the mastery of handling a motorcycle – a 250-kilogram BMW GS motorcycle, is all that's needed to give us a spot in what many consider as the Olympics of adventure riding: The International GS Trophy.
After local regional qualifiers in Davao, a Luzon qualifier, and a national qualifier in Rodriguez, Rizal last Sunday, two gentlemen from Davao and one from Las Piñas have been selected to represent our flag in the upcoming GS Trophy regional qualifiers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Southeast Asian qualifier will happen a week from now. If these three beat Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Indonesia, they will earn the right to represent Southeast Asia and advance to New Zealand for the 2020 International GS Trophy. Here, the ultimate adventure of a lifetime will pit them against powerhouse veteran teams like USA, Germany, Australia and reigning GS Trophy champion, South Africa.
These gentlemen are no push-overs when it comes to riding their big adventure bikes. Shawn Lim and Pietro Jaldon both hail from Davao and their backyard boasts of some of the finest off-roading sites in the Mindanao region. Don Lopez on the other hand, has been into off-road riding since before most of us even thought of getting a motorcycle.
These gentlemen believe their skills in off-road riding have certainly helped them a lot. Yet the challenges in Kuala Lumpur will not be so easy. “I always love the challenge, that's why I always join different groups when it comes to off-roading. But the GS Trophy is quite different and the stakes are higher as we are now representing not just ourselves but the whole Filipino nation,” said Don Lopez.
The International GS Trophy will have challenges that will involve both the group and individuals. Plus, there's still 200 to 300 kilometers of daily riding that requires excellent navigational skills over vast terrain in the remote areas of New Zealand.
“This competition separates the boys from the men. You cannot go there as a learner. You must be there already equipped with expertise. The sand is very unforgiving terrain. You must really know the tricks to survive,” said Aris Cuevas in one of our interviews with him after his GS trophy experience. Aris was the first Pinoy to represent our flag at the International GS Trophy that was held in Mongolia last year.
We pray that this "Gilas Pilipinas" will have a much better fate than their basketball counterparts.