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ADV NewsWatch: GS Trophy 2020 New Zealand Video Recap and Rankings

Watch: GS Trophy 2020 New Zealand Video Recap and Rankings

 Daily updates and highlights of the GS Trophy 2020.

Published on 02.16.2020

Day 8 recap: Final Day

  • Route: Wanaka to Coronet Peak
  • Distance: 265 km
  • Challenges: Jerrycan, Final parcour

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. As we rolled out of basecamp, through the morning dew, going on a downhill, I watched the group ride in front of me as they were going through a tree canopy. This was the last time I would see a departure for the 2020 International GS Trophy. And despite the early mornings, late nights, and lack of sleep, I am going to miss this, oh, so much.

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 test ride over the famous Nevis Road – New Zealand’s highest public ‘road’ – which is more of an offroad ‘tour de force’ with 24 river crossings and countless difficult rocky sections along its near 70 km length.

Nearing the end of the Road, the riders came to the first test of the day, the Jerrycan Challenge. For this test, the riders had to transfer two gas jugs around a designated course. They would go 2-up, and the passenger who was carrying them would hand over one of the containers to the 3rd member who was waiting on the course. Then the passenger would get off the bike, and the two of them would run with one container each to the finishing line, while the first rider with the bike would also ride to the finish line. Team USA did quite well, with no mistakes or penalties. They got 6th place with 18 points.

Final day video recap posting soon!

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After the test, the riders completed their circumnavigation of The Remarkables by regaining 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 on points it would prove pivotal to the outcome of the competition. The test called for trials skills combined with aggression to ensure a fast time with the 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. And while the USA riders cleared the course, a questionable tactic was not welcomed by the judges, and Team USA ended up in 19th place with only 10 points.

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, while 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.

The 7th International GS Trophy was a huge success. 40 Nations represented 22 Teams. 8 days of epic riding The biggest GS Trophy ever. Team USA started strong on Day 1. Unfortunately, a series of events, dropped Team USA several positions. At the end of Day 8, Chris, Harrison, and Kevin, finished 13th, gathering 254 points. The winner of the 7th International GS Trophy was for the 3rd time in a row, Team South Africa with 394 points, followed by France in place 2 with 382 points, and in the 3rd place, Team Italy, with 380 points. And it might be a cliche by now, but, everyone has won!

To everyone who supported Team USA, the friends, the family, and especially our sponsors Arai Americas and BMW Motorcycles of Riverside, Thank You! 

GS Trophy 2020 Final Standings:

1 South Africa 394
2 France 382
3 Italy 380
4 Netherlands 375
5 South Korea 361
6 Latin America 355
7 Brazil 335
8 Russia 316
9 Mexico 295
10 Argentina 278
11 Middle East 268
12 Australia 264
13 USA 254
14 Nordic 246
15 UK 238
16 Thailand 222
17 Japan 218
18 Malaysia 208
19 India 200
20 Int. Female Team I 169
21 North Africa 146
22 Int. Female Team II 118


Day 7 Recap

  • Route: Lake Tekapo to Mt. Aspiring
  • Distance: 375 km
  • Challenges: Akrapovic, Gate clutch start

The excitement is building up as the 7th GS Trophy is coming to an end tomorrow.  Day seven of the 2020 BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy saw the GS riders head further south, exchanging the high country of the Mackenzie Basin for the first reaches of the Upper Otago, not an easy transition as mountains are constant barriers to movement here in the South Island. The GS Trophy route negotiated four mountain passes and plenty of water crossings before the riders were allowed to reach the camp at Lake Wanaka.

The first special stage, called the Akrapovic challenge, was 32 kilometers from the campsite. Three riders on the course follow the designated route and when they finish it, they raise their hand to signal the next rider. Dabs are allowed but no drops, nor hit cones, just the accumulated time of the three riders. Against the clock, the riders balanced attack with technique, and for the leading teams of South Africa and France it was evident both were taking a measured tactic of being fast but not erratic – a mistake at this point in the competition could prove difficult to reverse.

After the test the riders continued up the pass on a flowing trail that allowed long glances westward toward the Southern Alps where the snowy peak of Mt. Cook (Aoraki by its Maori name) – at 3724 m New Zealand’s highest mountain – was lit by the orange and gold rays from the morning sun.

Once over this pass the route veered westward into Danseys Pass, an altogether more technical trail where the steep valley sides closed in tight – as did flocks of the Merino sheep, which repeated blocked the trail! At the head of the pass the riders could at last take their break for lunch at the Danseys Pass Hotel – as remote an establishment as you’ll ever find. Upon leaving the pass again the mountains were thrilling the riders with their beauty as clouds tumbled like waterfalls from the peaks.

In the afternoon the route took in one last high pass, up through Thomson Gorge, and at the highest point the riders found their second test of the day, ‘Gate clutch start’. Here the teams, starting from the gate at the head of the pass, had to bump start a BMW F850GS in the shortest possible distance. That’s start and stop, with the engine still running after the crash braking. Here again some played safe allowing themselves a good few meters to gain momentum before bump starting the GS and hitting the brakes. Braver teams, like Russia, successfully gambled on just two turns of a wheel before dropping the clutch catching the engine and braking – all done in less than five meters.

Test complete it was a last run downhill to Lake Wanaka, although this trail was peppered with water crossings and gates, so something of a stop-start affair. Wanaka is set in a huge glacier-formed valley, with fields dotted with giant rocks. The Pisa Hills stood to stop the riders from heading too far south while ahead the Southern Alps were again an imposing dark wall of rock that stood as barrier to the west coast.

The ride from Rotorua, across two islands, has been magnificent, at times challenging but always inspiring. Now the GS Trophy riders have just one more day to savor this most dramatic and beautiful of countries.

GS Trophy 2020 Day 7 Overall Standings:

1 South Africa 340 Points
2 Italy 335
3 France 331
4 South Korea 291
5 Brazil 286
6 Netherlands 280
7 Russia 279
8 Latin America 265
9 Australia 1244
10 Mexico 240
10 Middle East 240
12 Argentina 230
13 USA 226
14 Nordic 218
15 Japan 208
16 UK 199
17 Thailand 185
18 India 182


Day 6 Recap

  • Route: Punakaiki Beach to Lake Tekapo
  • Distance: 440 km
  • Challenges: Rent-a-Ride

If day five of the 2020 BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy had been upscaled, then day six was simply super-sized. The GS riders crossed the South Island west to east, riding 440 km over mountain passes and along the Canterbury Plain to reach Lake Tekapo, in the foothills of the Southern Alps, in the early evening. Along the way they encountered yet more mountain tracks, made multiple river crossings and, as Team Middle East were keen to point out, they’d been through that famous Kiwi experience: four seasons in one day.

Forty kilometers from our campsite, we arrived at the location of the first and only challenge of the day. The Rent-a-Ride is named after the company offering a rental ATV’s for an off-roading experience. The sign at the entrance of the trail reads “16 kilometers off-roading,” but we are certain, no one will have to ride all of it. And right, we were. The Rent-a-Ride challenge was only 700 meters long, and from the entrance, it didn’t look so bad. Two riders enter the trail, one at the time. Their task is to complete the trail at a time to each other as close as possible. The time started when the Marshal would countdown and give the signal, and it would end with the rider coming through the same gate on their way back. The 3rd member would run with the riders and coordinate their entrance and exit. The use of any electronic device (smartphone or wristwatch) as well as SENA units were strictly forbidden, and the Marshals were very thorough with their checks.

This is a well-known challenge in the GS Trophy world, and there are two ways to complete it. One option is for the “runner” to count seconds. It usually starts with the slowest rider of the group. If that rider completes the run in 3 minutes, for example, the runner has to stop the second rider before the gate and only let them go as close as possible to the 3-minute mark. Most teams use this method, and it’s proven to be entirely accurate.

The second option is one of the fixed time. The runner, will stop the first, slower, rider before the gate and wait until they reach a specific time. Usually, it’s a song the runner knows very well. Then when the second rider starts, the runner starts the internal clock again and coordinates the rider accordingly. Due to Chris John’s injured ankle, Team USA chose Harrison to be the runner, and Chris and Kevin would ride in the course. Team USA did well with a 6-second difference and secured 17 points with its 7th place.

Because Teams USA and Italy were the last groups to run the Special Challenge, the Marshals were discussing the possibility of skipping a section in the mountains. According to the schedule, the cutoff time was 3:30 pm at the lunch stop. Thankfully we were able to make some very good time. But at the cost of not stopping for pictures. And let me be clear. From a photographers point of view and after riding through the glacier rivers and Arthur’s pass, not being able to take pictures was a crime against humanity. But the teams decided they wanted to try the off-road section that we could have skipped.

The road took us to the countryside. Riding on paved roads, the wildflowers on the side, the tall mountains’ backdrop, the scattered clouds, and the fresh asphalt, combined, created the perfect riding conditions. And I am pretty sure we found the country’s one and only straight road. But that was about to change.

Until now, we would compare bits and pieces of New Zealand with other countries. Yesterday, we felt we were riding in Colorado, South France, and North California. But then we reached Arthur’s Pass and rode over the crystal clear glacier waters, and we gazed upon the force of Mother Nature and the defaced mountains from the melting snow throughout millions of years. We witnessed civil engineering marvels, bridges built where they shouldn’t be but were. And I spent the rest of the hour trying to compare it with another place. But I decided I had to give this one to New Zealand. This view is yours, my dearest Kiwis. Be proud of it, for there is no such beauty and enticement anywhere else on the planet.

Still, in awe, we reached our lunch stop just in time. We were about to enter a private road that would lead us through some private property — a kind of a ranch. We ended up riding on beautiful two-track roads, several creeks and river crossings, and steep and wet uphills. The latter worked as the perfect example of companionship when Harrison Kendrick rode the bike of yours truly after I got stuck on a wet, rocky, loose uphill, which was previously ridden by around 200 motorcycles.

We arrived at our destination, Lake Tekapo, around 7:30 in the afternoon. A full 12-hour ride, 440 kilometers, and a smile on our face, from ear to ear. Right on time for the scores. Team USA tried their best but dropped down to 11th place with 211 points. In the leaderboard, Team South Africa maintained 1st place with 309 points. At the photo contest, Team USA got a little bit less than 300 votes and finished 20th, with 4 points.

I am leaving you with a question. Why would New Zealand’s Ministry of Transport name some roads as scenic? Newsflash, they are all scenic.

GS Trophy 2020 Day 6 Overall Standings:

1 South Africa 309 Points
2 France 302
3 Italy 287
4 Brazil 260
5 South Korea 258
6 Netherlands 241
7 Russia 239
8 Middle East 217
9 Australia 215
9 Latin America 215
11 USA 211
12 Argentina 198
13 Japan 187
13 Mexico 187
15 Nordic 180
16 UK 172
17 India 166
18 Thailand 165
19 Malaysia 157
20 Int. Female Team I 127
21 North Africa 110
22 Int. Female Team II 98


Day 5 Recap

  • Route: Pelorus Bridge to Punakaiki Beach
  • Distance: 360 km
  • Challenges: Emirates, Rab

The 2020 BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy changed in the biggest way today as the South Island served up a sizable new challenge: mountains! The North Island was never anything less than hilly, but today in the South Island the GS riders found themselves tackling two mountains, riding on proper mountain tracks, not gravel roads. As promised, the riding intensity had been raised to a new level.

The morning started with a steep and winding climb up Mount Richmond, 20 km of rocky ascent through native forest that took the riders above the cloud base before reaching the 754 m Maungatapu Saddle where they found the first test of the day: the Emirates Challenge. For this test all 3 riders had to go through a tricky trail with loose rocks and a very steep uphill. At the top of that hill, a Marshall was holding an enlarged printout of a Boarding Pass. The riders had to memorize the flight number, the seat number, and some additional information, and then relay that to the Marshal at the end of the stage. Once the first rider completed the stage, the next rider would start from the beginning, with the same tasks. Team USA finished 12th gathering 12 points.

The ride down the mountain was no less tricky and for sure the riders were grateful for the coffee stop in Nelson (the capital of the Tasman Bay region), known for its spectacular sea fishing as much as the local fruit and wine cultures. However, the coffee break was soon forgotten when the riders found themselves fighting their way up and over yet another mountain. This one was even more technical than the first, as they headed west to Murchison the town at the head of the Buller Gorge – the only access route to the west coast through the top of the island’s mountain ranges.

The riders´ final destination was Punakaiki Beach, made famous by its tall limestone cliffs often called the pancake rocks for their distinctive strata – and a sight of wonder on high tide when a blow hole spouts sea water many meters into the air. And here came the second test of the day: the Rab Challenge. For this test, all three members had to run to a designated location. Two tents were set up for them. The riders had to remove their motorcycle boots, remove the sleeping bag from its bag, get into the tent, into the sleeping bag, and zip it to the top. Once the judge would say “OK,” they would run back and tag the next team member who had to do the same, until all riders completed the task. Team USA completed all three runs in less than 6 minutes and finished 11th, with 13 points.

In all it had been a full-on day that challenged the extreme riding capabilities of so many of the riders – and while more than a few had fallen, they all got up and got on, to finish the day with a great sense of achievement. A perfect day.

GS Trophy 2020 Day 5 Overall Standings:

1 South Africa 277 points
2 France 266
3 Italy 247
4 South Korea 233
5 Russia 212
6 Netherlands 208
7 Brazil 205
8 Australia 192
9 USA 190
10 Argentina 186
11 Middle East 186
12 Latin America 185
13 Nordic 168
14 Mexico 165
15 UK 164
16 Japan 151
17 India 141
18 Malaysia 141
19 Thailand 136
20 Int. Female Team I 108
21 North Africa 106
22 Int. Female Team II 58


Day 4 Recap

  • Route: Wainui, North Island to Pelorus Bridge, South Island
  • Distance: 204 km
  • Challenges: 40 years of GS Quiz, GPS Challenge, Metzeler Challenge

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. In an incredibly well-organized manner, they managed to load almost 200 motorcycles on a ferry in only a few minutes. The GS riders had interpreted this as a chance to rest and recharge their batteries, only with a 3:30 am call to breakfast – so as to catch the early inter-island ferry – they soon realized that there really is no rest in this competition until the finish.

The first challenge of the day was on board the ferry. BMW is celebrating the 40th anniversary after the first GS ever produced, and they asked to take a quiz and test the competitors knowledge on the GS. Questions such as “what was the first 2-cylinder model” and “what was the horsepower of the first GS” challenged the riders. The winner of the quiz was Team Japan. Team USA came fourth and got 20 points.

Upon arriving at the port of Picton, the GS Trophy riders created a stir as all 140 F850GS motorcycles disembarked the ferry together, followed by the vast entourage of cars and trucks that support the event. Once out of Picton 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 along 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.

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. Team USA had a bit of bad luck and finished 19th with 5 points.

For the last special challenge of the day, the riders had to change the rear wheel of the BMW F850GS. Once they removed the rear wheel, one member of the team had to carry the wheel and run once around the bike, before giving it to the other two members to mount it. While the US Team finished the task extremely fast, a small pin on the rear brake was not appropriately installed, making it unusable, and therefore, the team only received 9 points. Brazil won that challenge after changing the rear wheel in 1 minute and 28 seconds!

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

Finally, today, BMW announced the results of the picture voting. Thank you all for voting and sharing the content! Unfortunately, we did not get the required response and only got 500 points, which took us to the 17th place with 7 points. However, you have the option to vote again for the second picture! Please visit www.gstrophy.com and select the US photo. Could YOU help us get the much needed points?

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


Day 3 Recap

  • Route: Castlepoint to Wainui
  • Distance: 370 km
  • Challenges: Sand Slalom, Leatt Neck Brace Challenge, Trials

Day 3 of the 2020 International GS Trophy started, as usual, at 4:30 am. The routine is similar, and the riders are getting used to the early mornings and long days. There was a concerted push south today as teams looked to finish the day within striking distance of the Cook Strait, ready for a leap onto the South Island tomorrow.

Less than a kilometer from the start teams stopped for the first challenge of the day, Sand Slalom. For this test, one rider had to slalom through some very deep sand. The event was timed, and all dabs and drops counted. The rider for this special stage had to be different than the previous day. The deep sand claimed many victims, either tipping over or sinking deep, including the hitherto infallible Team South Korea.  Team USA started very well but unfortunately had a drop which cost them quite a few points finishing 14th on this challenge with 10 points.

Our transfer to the next challenge was originally going to include a ride on the beach, but Mother Nature had different plans. The high tide flooded the beach, and we had to take a detour, which proved to be the best riding we did since we got to New Zealand. The riders had to follow a two-track trail through some fields which took them on the ridgeline of the hills, side by side with the beach. The views were rewarding; the trail was quite faster than the gravel roads we used to ride so far. A good 20 kilometers of pure joy! But the surprises did not stop there. 

The second special stage was set for us near the beach again. It was a straightforward challenge so that it could allow everyone to score some easy points. The Leatt challenge was very similar to the game of corn hole. The organizers had laid down three Leatt neck braces, and the competitors had to throw their gloves towards them, trying to either have the glove go through the neck brace (which would get the most points) or touch it. Also, the further away the neck brace was, the more the points would be as well. Team USA tied on the 5th place, getting 19 points.

After lunch, we continued our ride towards the Southwest part of the North Island. The last challenge was waiting for our riders at the campground — a trials course with a creek crossing and a ribbon course through the trees. One rider had to complete the task, but all of the other members, including the Team’s journalist, could join and assist if needed. This was a timed event, and dabs and drops counted as deductions. Team USA rider Chris Johns rode his bike through the course. Unfortunately, Chris hit a rock as he was exiting the creek and dropped the bike, losing valuable time. We got the 16th place and won 8 points.

The end of the day found us just East of Wellington, the capital of New Zealand. With 370 kilometers on the trip for the day, a total of 1,074, the groups are getting ready for a very early morning. The motorcycles will travel to the South Island for the rest five days.

The results of the picture voting competition will be announced tomorrow afternoon.

GS Trophy 2020 Day 3 Overall Standings:

1 South Korea 157 points
2 South Africa 146
3 Netherlands 145
4 France 142
5 Italy 133
6 USA 124
7 Australia 122
8 Russia 114
9 Latin America 111
10 Brazil 109
11 Mexico 105
12 Argentina 101
13 Middle East 93
14 UK 79
15 India 78
16 Nordic 77
17 Malaysia 67
18 Japan 62
19 North Africa 62
20 Thailand 62
21 Int. Female Team I 43
22 Int. Female Team II 30


Day 2 Recap

  • Route: Napier Beach to Castlepoint
  • Distance: 380 km
  • Challenges: Gravel Push, Beach Sprint

Today’s stage of the 2020 GS Trophy is best described as a long push south along coastal trails. The Pacific Ocean glistened an azure blue under an unrelenting sun, while the riders weaved between shore and hills on a mix of tarmac, gravel and even sand.

With an early start as usual, all 22 teams rode along the coast to Cape Kidnappers (so named as this is where in 1769 the cabin boy on Captain James Cook’s ship Endeavour was abducted by Maori warriors). After riding through the beautiful city of Napier, and only 25 miles away from their campsite, riders found themselves in the area of the first challenge called the ‘Gravel Push’. For this special test the three teammates needed to push or pull their F850GS, with the engine off, across a slalom course set in the deep gravel at the back of the beach. A good way to warm up for the ride ahead! Team USA finished in 25 seconds, getting 18 points.

After the first special challenge, the teams rode through New Zealand’s wine country. Beautiful Estates, and views for miles. The clear skies and the crisp 16C made it an unforgettable experience for everyone. Continuing the trip, through what appears to be back roads but for the locals are the only roads. It makes one wonder if they ever get used to such beauty.

The next part of the day would have the teams riding on the beach. While this was not a special stage, the organizers asked to use this as an opportunity for a group picture that will be voted. This year, BMW requested that the teams do not use flags and make sure the riders keep their helmets on. This way, the pictures will not be voted based on the Team’s country but based on their creativity.

When the teams arrived at the beach, the smile on their faces was a testament to their happiness for what they were about to do. Most of these men and women have never ridden a motorcycle on the beach. And to do so in a country as beautiful as New Zealand should have been a bucket list item for many. The riders rode a total of 15 kilometers on the beach and got the opportunity to get a few spectacular pictures, but most importantly, they had such a great time!

The second special challenge was conveniently at the end of the beach riding. For this test, dubbed the ‘Beach Sprint’, one member has to ride for about 50 meters from the starting point, going towards the directions of some flags, ride around the flags, and finish right next to where he began, but inside a box. The fastest time won. The twist for this challenge is that the rider who was selected to ride today, cannot ride tomorrow in a similar special stage. Kevin Jones, was the rider for this time, which means that tomorrow, we will have to pick Chris or Harrison for the first special challenge. Kevin scored the 4th best time getting 19 points.

After a total of 380 km, the riders arrived at Castlepoint Beach to spend the night. At dinner, the locals had prepared for us a demonstration of a sheep shearing, live! Not something you see every day. In the end, the results came in and found Team USA still in 3rd place, behind Italy, and a fantastic South Korea!

GS Trophy 2020 Day 2 Overall Standings:

1 South Korea 120 points
2 France 90
3 USA 87
4 South Africa 85
5 Italy 77
6 Russia 77
7 Netherlands 77
8 Australia 59
9 Latin America 58
10 Argentina 57
11 Mexico 54
12 Middle East 54
13 Brazil 48
14 Japan 45
15 Nordic 44
16 Malaysia 39
17 India 37
18 UK 36
19 North Africa 34
20 Thailand 24
21 Int. Female Team I 18
22 Int. Female Team II 14


DAY 1 Recap

The GS Trophy competition has started! What lies ahead is eight days and around 2400km of adventure riding traversing both the North and South Islands. Some 60% of the route will be off-road and while routes will look not unlike European alpine roads, this is a country of barely five million people – and most of those are concentrated in the urban centers – so these are quiet roads that lead through incredible landscapes, nearly always hilly often mountainous.

The route starts in Rotorua, close to the center of the North Island, an area of active volcanic activity, and will end in the alpine ski-resort of Queenstown deep in the South Island. Along the way the participants will get to enjoy the nature and culture of these remote islands while facing daily challenges that count toward the competition, whether it’s riding skills, machine knowledge or wilderness understanding – but as always with the Int. GS Trophy expect the unexpected, every time a new experience!

BMW GS Trophy 2020 New Zealand
  • Route: Rotorua – Napier Beach
  • Distance: 340 km
  • Challenges: Water crossing & Sena Challenge

The first day of the 7th International GS Trophy in New Zealand took the riders in a 340 kilometers journey where gravel roads followed the river valleys and surrounded the riders with stunning views. With clear skies, the temperatures varied anywhere between 8C and 25C. After two hours the riders reached the banks of Miniha Stream, a tributary to the Whakatane River.

BMW had arranged two special challenges for the teams. The first challenge was a double water crossing with a very steep exit point right after the second pass through the creek. Team USA had one dab (foot down), which cost them 5 points (out of the 35 total available) and received a total of 30 points.

BMW GS Trophy 2020
BMW GS Trophy 2020
BMW GS Trophy 2020

After the River Crossing the riders regained the gravel tracks, working their way up to the beautiful Lake Waikaremoana where competitors faced their second challenge. Dubbed the ‘Sena Challenge’, the special test entailed a slalom through three gates. Each team had to send only one rider, but he would be blindfolded, and the other team members would guide him through the communication device provided by BMW. Team USA hit one cone and gathered 20 points.

BMW GS Trophy 2020
Chris Johns (USA) riding his bike blindfolded with the guidance of his teammates via their communication devices.

The course changed in character immediately after Lake Waikaremoana as the forest gave way to the high country grazing lands that eventually lead down to Hawke’s Bay. This region is typified by steep valleys, high cliffs and tenacious sheep! The finish came at a camp ground just outside the seaport of Napier.

The end of the first day, finds the US Team on the third place with 50 points, behind Team Italy and Team South Korea!

The second day starts again at 7:00 am. Team USA will ride with Team India, and they are the 3rd group to leave the campsite.

GS Trophy 2020 Day 1 Overall Standings:

1 South Korea 65 points
2 Italy 53
3 USA 50
4 Russia 42
5 France 41
6 South Africa 35
7 Argentina 32
8 Middle East 32
9 Netherlands 30
10 Latin America 28
11 UK 27
12 Nordic 24
13 India 21
14 Mexico 21
15 Thailand 18
16 Brazil 17
17 Japan 16
18 Malaysia 15
19 North Africa 15
20 Australia 10
21 Int. Female Team II 9
22 Int. Female Team I 8
23 China 0

Photos by Dimitrios Tournas and BMW Motorrad

Author: Dimitrios Tournas

Dimitrios is originally from Greece but now lives in Southern California. While he is still relatively new to off-road riding, he has competed in six GS Trophy qualifiers. Dimitrios has an extensive background as a professional Photojournalist, and has worked, lived, and traveled in over 30 countries. He is currently the President of the GS Giants, an International motorcycle community focused on promoting safe adventure riding.

Author: Dimitrios Tournas
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