The first edition of the BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy India qualifier exceeded all expectations. Not only did we enjoy witnessing it, but we also learned a thing or two.
The motorcycling world has been abuzz ever since BMW Motorrad officially entered the Indian market this year. So, when I got a call to come and witness the first ever GS Trophy India qualifier, I was eager to attend – despite not knowing much about the event.
The GS Trophy is not a race, instead it’s described as an adventure of a lifetime. It’s a competition wherein riders enjoy a 2,000-kilometre adventure ride – mostly off-road. Along the way, they compete in a series of challenges that test their intellectual, riding and navigational skills, as well as their ability to live in the natural world and work together as a team. It’s something that I would surely have signed up for, but the GS Trophy is only open for GS series owners.
BMW had initially expected around 20 participants for this event, but their expectations were far exceeded as a fairly large number of contestants sent in their applications. Eventually, the organisers had to make a cut-off at 40 entries. These riders spent three days battling it out, competing in multiple challenges to get a chance to represent India.
The first day consisted of basic training, where professional riders gave the contestants a few lessons and drills so that they could get acquainted with what they were about to endure for the next two days. I myself paid close attention to these special tips, which were handed out by the instructors – and I managed to gain some very insightful knowledge about adventure touring and off-road riding.
The next day, the real qualifying challenges began and it surely put each and every rider to the test. Some of the courses were very interesting and it tested the strength, agility and balance of the riders. Even the most experienced riders had difficulty completing a few of the challenges. Even though I like to boast about my riding skills, I can safely admit that I would have struggled to complete some of the courses that had been set up.
On the final day, the top 10 contestants competed again. But, in the end, only three were crowned winners – Sanket Shanbhag from Satara, Suprej Venkat from Coimbatore, and Winston Lee from Mumbai are the top three who will form the BMW Motorrad ‘Team India.’ All three BMW GS riders will go on to make BMW Motorrad India history by forming the first team from India to enter the BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy. They will go into the international finals as a team, where they’ll go up against teams from as many as 16 other countries. The winners will travel to Mongolia where they’ll compete in the 2018 edition of the GS Trophy, and they’ll be presented with personalised brand-new GS motorcycles for the duration of their ride.
If you’re planning to buy yourself one of these extraordinary motorcycles, you might find it interesting to note that BMW Motorrad claims that the Indian national qualifier will be held every two years, and will be open to all non-professional BMW GS series owners. So, if you think that you can handle it, or if you just want to be challenged, this event could be right up your alley.