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2011-01-05 "An international GS Trophy success story"

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An international GS Trophy success story

Now that the dust has settled in southern Africa and the participants from all around the world are safely home with their families, the organisers of the second International BMW Motorrad GS Trophy can relax, safe in the knowledge that the 2010 event was an unrivalled success story. Ten teams from all over the world fought hard and bravely to try and make the Trophy their own, and in doing so, put on an amazing show of teamwork and solidarity that united a worldwide network of GS riders. Now back at BMW Motorrad HQ in Germany, GS Trophy 2010 Project Manager Michael Trammer gives an exclusive interview about this amazing African adventure.

Just how big a logistical exercise was involved in getting everyone to Africa on time and in good shape?
Fortunately everybody arrived in Johannesburg in a good shape, although I can't say the same about all their luggage, some of which arrived one day later. But we had enough spare helmets and rider gear to go around, so everybody was able to start the GS Trophy on the Sunday.

How many media colleagues were present and did they also participate?
Each of the teams was accompanied by a journalist who was part of the team but did not take part in the special tests. We had a rule that the journalist would become part of the team if one of the members got injured and this actually happened to team Japan. As well as the journos, the GS Trophy was also documented by several film teams and photographers.

Did the Touratech-equipped BMW bikes stand up to the tough challenges of Africa?
Absolutely. In fact, we brought far too many spare parts with us. In the end, all we needed were some rims, clutches, a radiator and a few small parts. Apart from one bike being totally destroyed by a crash, there were no problems and no serious injuries either.

How many event staff were involved in total?
In addition to the 40 participants there were 53 others involved. We also had 14 support cars and 65 bikes with us. It sounds like a lot of people, but on reflection everyone was needed – it's a big event and they all did a great job!

How did the competitors cope in the heat?
We had temperatures ranging from a chilly 10 degrees in the mountains of Mpumalanga up to a toasty 38 degrees in sandy Mozambique. However, because it is the rainy season the temperatures were not too high, which was fortunate for the competitors, who had enough exhausting challenges to cope with!

Was the inclusion of the photo competition a good thing, and a popular decision among competitors?
Yes it definitely was a good idea. The teams were very ambitious and took a lot of really nice pictures. Furthermore, this competition also affected the final results and when you consider that in the end there was only one point difference between the winning UK team and the South Africans in second, things could have easily been different…

Was there a lot of camaraderie between the teams?
The team spirit between all the teams was incredible – in fact, we were all just one big family, despite the fact that there was a competition going on. That's exactly what the BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy is all about though and we're both happy and proud that this event created such impressive team spirit, camaraderie and many new friendships.

Were the locals pleased to see the Trophy passing through?
During the 2,000 km round trip we've seen many people and experienced different cultures. We made many contacts with locals and if you followed the same routes now, you would see many people with GS Trophy caps and T-Shirts. Even the border guards in Swaziland and Mozambique shared our enthusiasm.

Was southern Africa everything you imagined it to be?
We were very lucky that co-organizer and chief marshal Tomm Wolf and his team scouted the routes in such a perfect way, because every participant can truly say that they've really experienced Africa. As you can see from the pictures, South Africa, Swaziland and Mozambique offer everything a GS rider can dream of!

Did the winning team surprise you, or were they strong from the start?
Team UK was strong from the beginning. I really like their attitude as they were very relaxed, yet always competitive. Worthy winners in my opinion!

Were there any problems with the bikes?
Not really. We were well prepared and the bikes performed admirably, so no ‘night shifts' were needed by our mechanics from Touratech. Also, the Metzeler Karoo tyres easily lasted the distance.

How did the competitors cope with the early starts?
Due to the long and hard riding days, participants actually went to bed quite early, so the early alarm calls were acceptable. Plus, when I played Guns N' Roses' "Welcome to the jungle" through a loudspeaker at 0530, everybody got up quickly!

Were you surprised at how many people around the world were following the Trophy on Facebook?
The number of our fans on Facebook increased from 30,000 to nearly 140,000. I think the families and friends of the participants and all the GS fans worldwide appreciated the opportunity to follow the GS Trophy daily, as well as being able to watch the videos and read the reports. We hope it helped them feel part of the adventure.

Did the teams also support each other?
There were always two teams riding together and every day these teams changed. As hoped, they helped each other in every possible situation and shared techniques for sand riding, helped pull each others bikes out of mud holes and much more besides.

What was the high point of the Trophy for you?
The high point was that nobody got seriously injured and that we returned to Johannesburg safely. Also, I have to say that it was great to see the satisfaction of the competitors who took part in this amazing event. It was a privilege to be part of this awesome community.

And the low point?
The low point for me was that I was not allowed to ride a bike because of a broken collar bone. That's all!

Was there a big difference in the riding ability of the competitors?
All of the competitors were very skilled riders. Of course there were some differences but not big ones. Due to the fact that we had rationalised our national qualifying procedure, the level was really high.

Was it the first time in Africa for many of the riders?
Yes it was! I think none of the participants has been to Mozambique or Swaziland before.

What were the funniest moments of the Trophy for you?
We really laughed a lot, but it was especially funny when the Italian team capsized their canoe on the Pongola river

It must have been great to have such a close finish at the end?
Yes. The completion was thrilling and intense right until the end. Congratulations to the teams from GB, South Africa and Scandinavia for putting on such a fight. That said, every participant can consider themselves a winner.

Do you think that this is the kind of event can run and run?
That's what we really hope. It's worth a try for every GS rider in the world to have a go in one of the national qualifying events and to try to become a finalist for the 2012 GS Trophy. But even if you should miss this goal you can still be a part of it through the increasing internet community. We'll see you in 2012 somewhere on planet GS!

To see some video highlights of this year's International GS Trophy, simply visit

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