I have to admit, when I learned that this year’s BMW Motorrad GS Trophy was traveling through Patagonia and that 15 of the event’s participants were journalists, I was more than a little envious. While not really a race in the traditional sense of the word, it looks like its definitely an adventure. So at the very least this year, I’m content to live vicariously through BMW’s day-by-day updates. Here’s what happened on day one:
[Official Release] Team Latin America leads the GS Trophy tonight after impressive performances in the first two tests of the 2012 event. Team France and Team Argentina – like Latin America, making their debut in the GS Trophy in this the third edition – are in close attendance placing second and third.
This first day of this prestigious seven-day adventure event saw the 15 international teams ride a 250km gravel-road and off-road course that took them from the event’s start at Trailanqui Resort near Temuco in Chile across the China Muerta ranges, over the border into Argentina, to finish at the Piedra Pintada Hotel and Resort on the shore of Lake Pulmari.
With clear skies and warm temperatures the riders might have anticipated a gentle introduction to the week, but the dry tracks made for extremely dusty conditions while ever-present rocks on the tracks led to punctures that would delay the progress of three of the teams, making for late finishes.
The highlight of the day was the highly technical off-road section climbing through the araocaria forests of China Muerta – 30 kilometres of often tightly twisting narrow sand track with steep climbs and tricky stream crossings. Difficult enough, but with impenetrable dust clouds left by previous competitors more than one rider experienced an exciting off-track excursion. The tests today were based on technical riding ability – a trial section through the forest and ‘Magma turn’, an out-and-return timed ride with restricted u-turn (in reference to volcanic activity this area regularly experiences).
Yet for all the on-bike action much of the talk at the dinner table at the GS Trophy tonight was about the Patagonian experience. This a region of outstanding natural beauty, riding around snow-capped volcanoes is something new for so many competitors. Similarly the local peoples made a big impression, be it the horse-riding gauchos attending to their herds or the friendly and curious reception from the villagers met along the way – more than a few children were seen waving freshly presented Canadian flags! The day, however, belonged to Team Latin America, having shown some highly refined riding technique.
David Fonseca Chinchilla, Team Latin America: “We weren’t expecting to lead, but we’re glad to hear that and so we’ve found renewed energies for tomorrow! We are so happy, this is a great event and so we couldn’t be happier. Everything went well for us, so we’re super-super happy!”
Team France to the rescue On their first day of their first GS Trophy, Team France fully embraced the spirit of the GS Trophy when they stopped to help not one but two stricken teams. When Team Canada and then Team Argentina were halted by punctures remarkably it was Team France who both times got the stricken riders going again.
Adrian Tobler, Team Canada: “We had to admire the skill with which Team France fixed my puncture, using only the most basic tools – they saved us a lot of time.”
Felipe Masionnave, Team Argentina: “I was really impressed when I heard Team France had only just come from helping Team Canada when they arrived to help us. They probably put an extra hour on their day helping our two teams – that’s a real selfless act. So a big thank you to them from us.” Team France also impressed in the tests today, with polished riding techniques, and look a strong prospect for GS Trophy success. Logistically speaking
Border-crossings are often tense times, when a live competition with over 100 vehicles seeks to cross a remote border, we’re talking an all-new level of administrative strain.
Tomm Wolf, GS Trophy organiser: “I must express our gratitude to the border control staff of both Chile and Argentina who had to cope with such a sudden and massive influx of vehicles and people on two very remote border crossings. Both worked intensively with us in the days leading up to this event so that we could make a speedy crossing and maintain the momentum of the event, it’s their willingness to help and support us that allows this unique event to travel where it does and make it so special.”
GS Trophy 2012 Day One results and overall standings: