Every two years, BMW holds one of the most exciting competitions for its GS customers –the GS Trophy. It's regarded as one of the best customer experience programs for adventure bike owners. BMW Motorrad sells their products in more than 100 countries, but only 30 countries take part in the GS Trophy, and this is India's second opportunity to participate, which just shows how important Indian market has become for international manufacturers in recent years.
Now, the GS Trophy is not a race, it's a team competition that pits the GS-riding international contingent against each other in a series of challenges. We were invited to participate as guests in the Indian qualifiers this year to experience the thrill of this event. The top 15 bike journalists from across the country were present, including myself, and it's safe to say that we were all slightly overwhelmed and anxious about some of the challenges and courses laid out for us. It is by no means an easy competition, and every bit of your skill and nerves are put to test. Some of the challenges involved balancing the bike at very slow speeds, controlling throttle modulation, clutch control, performing J-turns and U-turns, and, of course, attempting to ride through some very difficult terrain courses without dabbing the ground.
More than 75 people from across India rode down to Goa to take part in the qualifiers. Some of them had been practising for months and had even gone abroad to South Africa, Germany and Thailand to prepare for the Indian qualifiers. That just shows how serious the competition is for many. On day one, riders battled each other through various intensive stages, including hard-core adventure riding and teamwork challenges. Special tests included the display of riding capability, technique, navigation, fitness, mental alertness, and mechanical skills. Only 21 riders managed to qualify for the second and final day of qualifiers. Soon, it was time for the announcement of the top three riders who are to represent India. Mr HK Naik from Bangalore, Mr Shakeel Basha from Coimbatore, and Mr V Sathyananth from Tirupur will proudly represent India at an international level.
The seventh-edition of International GS Trophy will take place from 9 to 16 February 2020 in New Zealand, which offers an ideal terrain to have a wonderful experience of riding the F 850 GS. We would like to wish team India all the best for this exciting competition.