Day Three of the BMW Motorrad GS Trophy Female Qualifier saw the women tested on everything from mechanical aptitude to waterproofing!

Wednesday 15 November, 2017

Country Trax, Amersfoort, South Africa

The BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy Female Team Qualifying 2017

Day Three Review

There’s been no let up in the action in the BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy Female Team Qualifying 2017 as the third day rolls to a completion. The weather continues to play its part in proceedings, with rainstorm after rainstorm sweeping across the South African countryside so that torrential rain and the threat of lightning strikes have been battering the competitors as much as the event’s set challenges. To win through to the BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy final in Mongolia the winning participants are going to have fought off their competitors, the challenges – and the elements. 

Night terrors

But first we should recap on the completion of day two. In yesterday’s review we reported on the ten hours of competition that took place in the daylight, followed by the emotional roller coaster that was the surprise end-of-day elimination that saw the 23 become 14. After that announcement came the immediate instruction to those 14 to get suited up again as they were sent in three groups to take on a nighttime navigational challenge, setting off at 10pm on a 25km off-road GPS-plotted route through the Country Trax farmlands. In the middle of the ride they encountered a challenge within a challenge when they were tasked with fixing a puncture. For one group there was even an unofficial challenge in rescuing the GS Trophy chief marshal Tomm Wolf from a creek after he’d taken a wrong track! It’s that kind of an event.

The participants completed their task at 11:30pm but the night hadn’t finished with them as around 2:30am high winds and a huge thunderstorm truly battered their Marmot tents, several participants this morning saying they had feared being swept away such was the ferocity of the storm – fortunately the Marmot kit is made from stern stuff.

Like skating on ice

This morning (day three) the action started immediately, with a rear wheel changing exercise conducted under partial cover as yet more rain and winds lashed the countryside. Then followed a slow-race across the lawns in front of the Country Trax complex.

As the rain at last eased (temporarily as it turned out) the action moved to two challenges set on the edge of the bush that borders the complex. The first test, ‘log grind’, challenged the participants to ride through two water-filled trenches, then straddle their GS across a long pole (lying on the ground) and ride its length. A test that would be tough enough on a good day, but the clay base was saturated and offered all the grip of an ice sheet. The second challenge required the riders to hold with their throttle hand one end of an attached pole that would sweep in a circle and ride feet-up for two complete rotations. Again a tough challenge anytime, but made harder when the located in a clay pit that was half submerged!

Then followed a favourite here in South Africa, the elephant turn. A 100 metre charge up to a 180º turn point followed by a race back to the finish. And after that, two laps of a course known as ‘the Star of David’ that was, much like everywhere, slicked up by the rain. Two laps without crashing and within a tight time limit was the challenge – only a handful made it.

A hasty retreat, with and without dignity...

As ever, the action never stops in the GS Trophy and the competitors then set off cross-country to reach two remote tests. One a figure of eight set over two opposing slopes, the other an emergency brake test. Given the conditions (more saturated clay) neither was at all easy, but you could identify the best of the best given some truly courageous rides. Immediately after these tests the event was again besieged by atrocious weather, and the retreat back to the Country Trax complex became a challenge in itself with slick steep hills and ice-like clay tracks. The participants made it through, not without some lurid slides and muddy dismounts, but the event’s support vehicles had a much tougher time, sliding out of control in all directions.

So, not for the first time, rain stopped play at this 2017 qualifier. Not that the enthusiasm and the joyous spirit of this event has been in any way been dampened. Without exception all 23 women participants continue to celebrate and revel in the spirit of GS, in their own very special way.    

Standings after day three:

1. Ezelda van Jaasveld (South Africa); 2. Julia Maguire (Australia); 3. Sonia Barbot (France); 4. Jocelin Snow (USA); 5. Linda Steyn (South Africa); 6. Bettina Nedel (USA); 7. Marion Linder (Germany); 8. Louise Hodgkinson (UK); 9. Jessica Leyne (France); 10. Stephanie Schinkel (Mexico); 11. Andrea Box (Australia); 12. Leticia Benitez (Mexico); 13. Gritt Ahrens (Germany); 14. Khai Zabidin (Malaysia).

Day Three Photo Gallery

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