After eight days and approximately 2500 km, the 2020 BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy has reached its conclusion at the ski resort of Coronet Peak near Queenstown. South Africa has emerged as champions, having narrowly beaten off Teams France and Italy. This marks South Africa's third consecutive International GS Trophy win, having won previously in Thailand in 2016 and Mongolia in 2018.
In the tradition of leaving the best until last, day eight offered some of the most technical riding of this year’s International GS Trophy, featuring a testing ride over the famous Nevis Road – New Zealand’s highest public ‘road’ – which is much more than a road, more an off-road tour de force with a reputed 24 river crossings and countless difficult rocky sections along its near 70 km length.
Leaving Wanaka at the usual 7:00 am call time, the riders first enjoyed a flowing road section in the run through to Cardrona, and while clouds prevented the usual spectacular sunrise, it was an unusually warm 18ºC making for a comfortable opening ride. Following the line of the Crown Range, after an hour the riders caught their first sight of The Remarkables, the 2,300-meter mountain range that towers over the adventure activity capital that is Queenstown. But no sooner had the riders seen the mountains than they were plunged down a steep track that led to the historic gold rush village of Arrowtown.
To enter Arrowtown, first they had to ford the Arrow River, which was over a meter deep in parts, causing several riders to come to a soggy halt before reaching the far bank. Taking an opportunity to empty their boots of water, in leafy Arrowtown, the riders enjoyed a coffee break in the cafes among the historic buildings of the village center.
The break was timely, as from there – after a further detour that took the riders along the eastern shores of the stunning Lake Wakatipu – the riders ended up on Nevis Road. First came the dramatic 1300 m climb up to the high country of the Nevis Valley. Then came the challenge of the 24 river crossings. With so many rocks and muddy sections, the riders needed to employ good trials skills, but still many suffered falls and a few soakings.
Nearing the end of the Road, the riders came to the first test of the day, the Jerrycan Challenge. Here the GS riders needed to ride up a track alongside a stream, two-up carrying two fuel cans. At the top of the trail, the pillion dismounted and with the third team member ran the cans down through the stream. Meanwhile, the rider returned to the start/finish line where they would be reunited, test completed. The nerves among the leading teams were in evidence here as many an error was made, which would be critical to the outcome of the competition.
After the test, the riders completed their circumnavigation of The Remarkables by returning to the highway and heading up to the Coronet Peak ski resort for the final test, the Parcour. This test carries double points and with the top three teams being so close in points, it proved pivotal to the outcome of the competition. The test called for trials skills combined with aggression to ensure a fast time with a minimum of penalties. All three riders in each team rode the test, in a relay – and again it paid not to drop or stall the bike if the time and penalties were to be kept to a minimum. All this was set against the incredible backdrop of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu nearly 900 meters below.
And when the scores were totaled, newcomers to the International GS Trophy, Team Netherlands, had dominated the day, lifting themselves into fourth in the final standings. Despite a nervous start to the day, Team South Africa had done just enough to stay ahead of their nearest rivals, France and Italy, to score their third GS Trophy win.
“With just a five-point gap coming into this morning it was a scary start to the day, we were nervous, shaking even and over-thinking everything! So in the jerry can test we had a few problems but we got back up and carried on. For the final parcour, this was one of the scariest events I’ve ever taken part in. But it was awesome, we set a fast time with super clean riding, we felt we’d done all that we could. And it was enough! We’re super-happy to take the win and we know for the GS community at home this is cause for celebration. Our third win, it’s wonderful,” said Team South Africa member Brandon Grimsted.
The GS riders had enjoyed an incredible eight days of adventure riding. New Zealand’s two islands had delivered a vast range of natural wonders. From ocean beaches to the peak of Mt. Cook, the riders had seen so much of the terrain, and the flora and fauna that makes this remote country such an intense experience. And along the way, they had made so many new friendships among the 22 international teams, proving that through a shared passion, it's possible to unite all men and women of the world under the one emblem – that of the GS.
BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy 2020 Oceania final standings:
1 South Africa 394
2 France 382
3 Italy 380
4 Netherlands 375
5 South Korea 361
For the complete list of results, visit the International GS Trophy webiste here.