Weekend of mud and sun for BMW GS ownersPOSTED BY Ian Jerome Leong ON 22 August 2017
Say the letters BMW and the most common thoughts that come to mind are executive sedans, ultimate driving machines, legendary race cars and perhaps even James Bond. For those more accustomed to the world on two wheels, however, will certainly recall sporty roadsters, grand tourers, boxer engines and, last but not least, the versatile GS range of motorcycles.
Under the scorching sun at Sepang’s MX track on 12 and 13 Aug, BMW Motorrad – the motorcycle arm of BMW Malaysia Sdn Bhd – organised the highly anticipated GS Trophy South East Asia Qualifier 2017.
The event drew the attention of off-road motorcycling enthusiasts from around the country, and in particular, GS owners who were keen to put their skills to the test to overcome bumps, crests, water crossings, rough terrain and other obstacles that riders are bound to face when venturing off the beaten track.
As its name suggests, the competition is only a precursor to the International GS Trophy 2018 that will take place in Mongolia – with the winner of the event given the privilege to represent Malaysia as part of the Southeast Asia team that will also include a rider from Thailand and Singapore.
The GS Trophy varies from the more common motocross or rally raid events in the sense that it focuses on motorcycle control, riding skill, teamwork, instinct, rider knowledge and IQ instead of raw speed and timing.
Among the challenges arranged on Day 1 was for the 40 participating GS owners to form teams before extracting a “downed” GS motorcycle and getting it through a muddy ravine, a challenge that required camaraderie and excellent teamwork.
Besides the practical knowledge of a motorcycle and how to control it in different situations, participants also had to complete tyre tube repairs, fitness tests and a written test that included aspects of navigation, product knowledge, trivia and history.
The day’s top 10 finalists were later announced to battle it out on the final day of competition.
Day 2 proved more gruelling than the day prior, with the event coordinator and Malaysia’s GS Trophy 2016 representative Faisal Sukree having arranged more demanding off-road challenges.
Unlike Day 1 where riders had used their own GS machines, finalists were made to ride on standard R 1200 GS LC motorcycles – the same specifications as the bikes used for the world finals.
Riders had to complete everything from tight slalom courses to a water crossing challenge, a soft sand pit, steep inclines and side banks. Points are awarded for the success of each obstacle.
It was interesting to see many riders being unsure of their capabilities and thus deciding to skip challenges, sacrificing valuable points. There were also many riders who gave in to the pressures of competing in front of a crowd, by making silly mistakes or taking a tumble.
The final challenge, too, claimed many victims who dared thought it was mere child’s play.
Known as the Clutch Control Test, riders had to stand next to the motorcycle, put the bike in full lock to the left, start the engine, put the bike in gear and then start to control the clutch so that the bike starts to make the tightest turning circle with the rider as the pivot – all while operating the bike with only one hand!
Besides putting the bike in gear and removing the side stand, touching the bike with any part of the body result to failure.
The aim of this challenge is to test the rider’s ability to get the bike moving should the rider break or dislocate his arm.
After a physically and emotionally draining weekend, Mohd. Apis Sagimin was eventually crowned winner of GS Trophy Southeast Asia Qualifier 2017.
Other than the GS Trophy qualifiers, BMW Motorrad also took the opportunity to unveil three new models for the Malaysian market.
– R 1200 GS Adventure Triple Black
– S 1000 R
– G 310 R
BMW Motorrad’s other current models were also on display. Those eager to get a feel of these bikes were able to register for free test rides on the public roads that surround the Sepang circuit.