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PressClub South Africa · Article.

BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy Southeast Asia 2016, Day 5. Team South Africa widen their lead.

Munich/Khun Tan. After four days of travelling predominantly west and south on its seven day loop of Thailand's Golden Triangle region, the 2016 BMW Motorrad Int. GS Trophy headed in an easterly direction for the first time today, with a gruelling 270 km, nine-hour, ride from Mae Sariang to Khun Tan in scorching temperatures, interspersed with the usual series of special stages to keep participants in the hunt for precious points.

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After two days bivouaced at Mae Sariang, it was back to life on the road today with the riders striking camp early, enjoying a hot breakfast, filling their hydration systems to the brim with water (with mineral additives) and then grabbing a lunch bag to stow in their tail packs. With a long day's ride ahead, it was vital to put some kilometres behind them while the sun was still low in the sky.

Making progress was the order of the day if the finish was to be reached before sundown – and it was a close-run thing. Early trails were slow, technical single-track through a proverbial jungle, with precipitous descents and tricky climbs.

As with every day, the riders were exploring remote regions, repeatedly passing traditional stilt-house villages, every ride-through creating a mayhem of scattering dogs, chickens, ducks, pigs – and even buffalo. A centuries-old canvas. Later the trail became more open, but hard-pack clay riven with washouts, rocks and dusted with loose stone made the riding both exacting and tiring. Hour after hour this continued, through remote valleys and along the ridges of 1500m mountains with only the special tests to break the never-ending effort.

After 85 kilometres – but four hours of riding – the competitors arrived at the first Special of the day – 'Big Buffalo' – a relay exercise where each team rider needed to ride fast and then make a sharp turn (to avoid the buffalo of course!) before returning to the start line to tag their team-mate. When the times were added up, Team South Africa were clear winners and showed the rest of the competitors exactly how to avoid a painful encounter with the famous Thai water buffaloes.

Another 100 kilometres of scenic, but tough riding led to the next test situated at the entrance to the Obluang National Park. This was a navigation test, where the teams were given a GPS unit and a waypoint. If entered into the GPS correctly, this led to another waypoint, each waypoint rewarded by a letter – and the next waypoint destination. When the teams had located all waypoints and collected all letters, they could then join the letters together to form the word to give to the marshal – proof they'd correctly found all waypoints – and the clock could then be stopped.

The teams that had practised navigation exercises in advance were quick to complete this Special, while some of the others could be seen scratching their heads and searching the undergrowth for vital clues. Fitness played a part, too, because running around a steep, wooded valley in full riding gear in temperatures in the high 30s certainly took its toll. Not so for Team UK, who were the quickest in this information gathering exercise.

After again filling their hydration packs to the brim, the riders set off again, as they still had another 100 kilometres to go until arriving at the bivouac. The sun had descended behind the mountains as the leading group of riders rolled up to camp, while the later arrivals needed their head-torches in order to pitch their tents.

Perhaps the most eagerly-awaited announcement at dinner was the results of the second photo competition, where precious points were 'up for grabs' depending on how successfully the teams had engaged with their communities, following the GS Trophy from back home. A massive 41,561 votes were cast in the short window of opportunity, with newcomers Team China winning the second competition with an impressive 7,603 fans rating their picture as the favourite. All photos and votes can be viewed at www.gstrophy.com.

Of course, the points of the day were also announced and showing studied consistency, it is South Africa who still lead the way over Germany and the UK, although with only 27 points separating the top five, the 2016 GS Trophy is still very much there for the taking. With two days of competition remaining, the teams that keep a cool head under pressure have a real chance to take the title back home with them.

Catch all the latest updates online at gstrophy.com and also via YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

Results BMW Motorrad Int. GS Trophy 2016 Day Five:

 

1     South Africa                                                   214 pts.

2     Germany                                                        200 pts.

3     UK                                                                  194 pts.

4     Latin America                                                190 pts.

5     China                                                              187 pts.

6     CEEU                                                             178 pts.

7     Brazil                                                              177 pts.

8     USA                                                               163 pts.

9     Mexico                                                            147 pts.

10   Argentina                                                       144 pts.

11   France                                                            141 pts.

12   Russia                                                            138 pts.

13   Italy                                                                 133 pts.

14   Canada                                                          126 pts.

15   South Korea                                                   120 pts.

16   South East Asia                                             101 pts.

17   Japan                                                             94 pts.

18   International Female Team                           89 pts.

19   Alps                                                                83 pts.

 

   

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