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Day four of the 2020 BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy saw an unfeasibly early start as the GS riders swapped North Island for South Island
PHOTOS: Vanessa Blankenagel, Markus Jahn & Amelie Mesecke
I awoke not in a bunk house, but a bunkroom this time. Four of us again, all very cosy. And by heck, a 3:30 alarm call. Your body would protest if it wasn’t just so confused. Breakfast was jolly though, everyone eating by the light of their Coleman head torches. Then a ride/drive down to the docks to meet the inter-island ferry. Cold for the riders, just fine in the Land Cruiser.
We parked next to the Latin American team and I had juvenile fun getting all the women of the GS Trophy to give young Arturo a morning hug. We got up to 14. They looked good hugs, too.
The ferry ride was a rare chance for everyone to relax. Given the early hour, most had a nap but after that there was time to be properly social and to share a long chat over breakfast. We forget sometimes, that as much as we like to ride we do like company a great deal. Bikes are cool, bike people are even cooler.
The stop at Havelock was another chance to socialize, this time over yet more great coffees. Driving in the car, hopping around with the crock knee, I missed being on the bike, wearing the kit and the sheer luxury that it is just to flop down on the pavement (sidewalk) – who needs chairs – and just while away the time chatting while sipping a drink.
There was fun and games at Pelorus Bridge. More scampering, then fiddling with wheels. The BMW mechanics did real work though, doing the 1000km oil change on something like 100 bikes in about three hours.
Oh yes, great food and drink at this camp too – the local caterers were doing us proud.

JB’s BMW REPORT… Pelorus Bridge, New Zealand.

Today’s stage was something of a liaison as the 2020 BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy transitioned from the North Island to the South Island of New Zealand. The GS riders had interpreted this as a chance to rest and recharge their batteries, only with a 3:30am call to breakfast – so as to catch the early inter-island ferry – they soon realised, like Int. GS Trophy riders before them, that there really is no rest in this competition until the finish.

Nonetheless, today was a great opportunity for the GS riders to share experiences, for with three hours on the ferry they had plenty of time for inter-team chats. Albeit that was after they had completed their first challenge of the day – the ‘40 years of GS Quiz’ in which they were tested on their knowledge of this iconic motorcycle that has become so much more than just a brand. In fact it was a ferry ride in three parts: knowledge test, sleep and sight seeing, the latter coming as the ferry made its way down the spectacular Queen Charlotte Sound to the port of Picton.

In Picton the GS Trophy riders created a stir as all 140 F 850 GS motorcycles disembarked the ferry together, followed by the vast entourage of cars and trucks that support the event. Once out of Picton – which took all of two minutes, it’s that small – the GS riders enjoyed a scenic ride through the Marlborough Sounds. Although this region is world famous for its wine production, the route followed the national park trail following the sounds and then up into the valleys before reaching the small town of Havelock (population: 486) where the GS riders gratefully stopped for a coffee break, or maybe for something cooler as the temperature was uncharacteristically hovering around a sweltering 30ºC. From here it was a short ride to Pelorus Bridge where they found their campsite set deep in a forest, one which was again peppered with New Zealand natives such as totara, beech and rimu.

Even the early afternoon finish was not an opportunity to rest as the GS riders found two more challenges waiting for them. First was the ‘GPS Challenge’ in which the teams took their BMW Motorrad Navigator VI GPS units and had to find their way – on foot – through the forest to find another Navigator VI unit from which they extracted data to be reported to the marshal at the end of the challenge. Warm work, running through the forest in the heat of the afternoon.

No sooner had they finished this, than the riders were shepherded to the ‘Metzeler Challenge’ where they needed to demonstrate their prowess with the tools, changing the rear wheel on their F 850 GS. Again, as this was against the clock the teams needed to have intimate knowledge of the wheel spacers, chain run and brake arrangement if they were to set a fast time.  

So the event has reached its halfway point and while the competition is hotting up, particularly with the top three so being close on points, the going from here is set to get progressively more testing with big days ahead in the big country. It’s going to be the strong and the skilled who’ll prevail.

Finally, as if there could be any more to do, this evening the teams submitted their images for the second GS Trophy photo contest. 

Jaap van Hoofwegen 2020 BMW GS TROPHY
Jaap van Hoofwegen, Team Netherlands:

“We’ve had a great start to the competition. It’s an amazing experience, meeting new people every day and riding through incredible scenery. This is the first Int. GS Trophy for the Netherlands and we were hoping to do well, so we’re actually quite chuffed with how we are doing. Today we have had what’s been described as something of a rest day, but we’d have to say setting your alarm for 3:30am to pack your tent does not feel like resting! Anyway, we’re looking forward to the second half of the competition where we expect the temperatures to get cooler – maybe! – the scenery to get bigger and the challenges tougher.”

Ronnie Lundberg, Team Nordic:

“This is our first Int. GS Trophy since 2010, so it’s great to be here. We are enjoying every second of it, it’s been great riding on the beaches and making friends from around the world. The scenery is amazing. On day one we said, ‘woah, this is the best scenery we’ve ever seen!’ but our marshal said ‘wait, it gets better’. And he was right, every day is more magnificent. And the bike, the F 850 GS, we love the bike – the suspension, the power, the way it’s so narrow, it’s great in the gravel, great on the road, across everything as GS stands for. It’s a sport bike, it’s an everything-you-want bike!”

Ronnie Lundberg 2020 BMW GS TROPHY
Assada Porananond 2020 BMW GS TROPHY
Assada Porananond, Journalist, Team Thailand

“I’m Team Thailand’s journalist. It’s been very exciting, my three guys are having a very unique experience. They’re also feeling exhausted, because of the change of temperature from day to night – they’re not used to the cold nights and mornings. Right now they are asleep on the top deck of the ferry, hopefully getting their energy back ready for what’s to come, which we understand will be more adventurous still! We love riding with the other teams, we are not the best with the English language but motorcycling – and the GS – is a common passion and that breaks down the barriers. And the Sena communications units have really helped us, we can talk all the time!”

BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy 2020


Day 4 overall standings:

1 France 226

2 South Africa 223

3 Italy 211

4 South Korea 199

5 Netherlands 189

6 Russia 188

7 Brazil 175

8 Middle East 170

9 USA 165

10 Australia 160

11 Latin America 158

12 Argentina 155

13 UK 139

14 Mexico 138

15 India 129

16 Japan 127

17 Thailand 124

18 Nordic 123

19 Malaysia 115

20 North Africa 93

21 Int. Female Team I 89

22 Int. Female Team II 52


A quick explainer. These film clips were shot randomly by me, JB. That’s not entirely true – having taken something of a heavy impact in transit to NZ, the wee Garmin Virb mini-cam in fact chose the random moments, as for much of the time it chose not to film! For days I persisted, wiggling batteries and cards to make it work. It probably worked for 30% of the time. Then after the fifth day it as good as stopped altogether. However, it remained useful as the extension stick doubled as both a walking stick and person-prodder (mostly photographers).
The films are cut in a succession of two-second clips, no commentary, no music, just ambient sound. It’s not an original concept, but like all the best ideas, borrowed/stolen…


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