The BMW Motorrad GS Trophy 2012 is complete. This, the third edition of the GS Trophy proved every bit as compelling, as challenging — and ultimately, as unifying — as the previous two. The biggest yet, it brought 15 teams with riders representing 19 nations together for a seven-day 2000 kilometre adventure across the Andean high country of the Chile-Argentina borderlands. Riding over terrain that was sometimes no more than a loamy single-track path through a forest, other times a hard pack high-speed piste across the vast open plateaux, the riders battled through clouds of volcanic ash, were exhausted by sun-baked afternoons, then soaked by rain and chilled by the cool of the mountains in this time of early spring in Southern Hemisphere.

The start came at Trailanqui Resort, near Temuco, Chile at 7.45am on the morning of November 25, the riders setting off early in anticipation of a long day in the saddle. In fact there were no short days, some were simply longer than others. The distances meant nothing, it was the complexities along the way that accounted for the time. Often the riders arrived at a bivouac as late as 5.30pm, some nine hours after they started, sometimes having been hampered by punctures or minor misadventures, but always buoyed by the experience. Exhausted they wanted only for food and sleep — and to go again.

The biggest GS Trophy yet, with over 113 people in the ‘caravan’ it was arguably a tougher challenge for the organisers than the riders. Where the BMW F 800 GSs and R 1200 GS Rallyes skipped along untroubled, the support vehicles struggled and often broke. By December 2, seven days after they set off, all — the riders and organisers — were back in Temuco, so much richer for the experience — for having come to know Chile and Argentina, for having come to know each other. And for having experienced the GS Spirit.

Team Germany had taken control of the GS Trophy competition on day three — and they never let it go. Consistent and committed, Team Germany placed in the top three for seven of the 16 special tests so as to win by a healthy margin. But theirs was by no means a runaway success. The teams from France, Italy and Argentina especially made sure the Germans would have to give never less than 100% on every test.

Team France, the youngest team in the GS Trophy, brought skill and flair in their riding, brought rescue to at least two teams when misfortune struck, and brought entertainment to the evenings. Very popular among all the teams they would have been much closer to the German victors but for forgetting to submit their entry for the first day photo competition (they won the second photo competition by a considerable margin).

Team Italy were a quietly competent team. They didn’t win a single test, but they were always in the hunt. Very different to the Italian team from the 2010 GS Trophy — the 2010 team were (ironically) dubbed the Italian Navy Seals after a very wet canoe race — this Italian team excelled with the rafts, narrowly losing out to France for the win.

Team Argentina were probably the most popular team on the GS Trophy — although the often outrageously flamboyant Brazilians ran them close — for they featured most prominently in a survey of ‘who did you best get along with?’ Yet they were highly competitive, winning more tests than any other team and in winning the log crossing and technical (motorcycle electrics) tests they showed they were as practical as they were sporting.

Team Germany were, in such pressured circumstances, elated to have won. Tobi Weiser: “I could start crying, that is for sure, words can’t describe the feeling, it is just wonderful.

“What can I say? I love the GS Trophy, because we’ve met so many beautiful people, beautiful friends in this one week, it’s amazing, I love it. The morning of the last day I said before we started, ‘it’s not important to win, we got here, we had fun — it is what it is.”

Team Canada’s Marc-André Octeau was injured out of the GS Trophy on day four of the competition. He had fallen during the Enduro test and sustained chest and shoulder injuries that required a period of hospitalisation. The GS Trophy doctors had been on the accident scene — by Marc-André’s own words — within a minute and they visited him regularly during his stay in hospital. In fact Marc-André was impressed by the quality of the medical care in both Argentina and Chile. Marc-André made a speedy recovery and will return home to his family in Montreal very soon.

Team Brazil’s Luciano Lancelloti even threw his F 800 GS 4 meters off a bridge into a ravine. It landed upside down. When 30 minutes later it was at last hauled back up to the track it was discovered only the mirrors and a mounting lug to the instruments were broken. Given a few minutes for the oil to return to the crankcases, the GS started first turn of the starter, no more repairs were necessary and Luciano was able to finish the event on the same machine. BMW took four reserve bikes to the event, but none were needed.

Heiner Faust – Vice president sales and marketing BMW Motorrad

is the father of the GS Trophy. The concept was originally his, coming from his time at BMW in Japan when he was looking at a means to demonstrate and share the GS philosophy. He passed that concept onto others and most notably today the driving force of the GS Trophy is shared between Michael Trammer and Tomm Wolf. But on this occasion, the third GS Trophy, Heiner, now head of BMW Motorrad’s sales and marketing, came back to witness first hand the fun and friendships his original idea has generated. This was what Heiner had to say from the finish line of the GS Trophy 2012.

“Firstly, the GS Trophy is a big part of the company, of the whole BMW Motorrad culture. It’s our biggest event for our GS customers, for our GS community, for our GS friends. It’s just amazing seeing those people riding here, through the rain forests and the wonderful landscapes. To see these people coming together from all over the world and just having fun together, this is incredible and this means a lot to us.

“I wouldn’t say it´s just something we do to make some customers happy, once again it’s part of our culture, part of our dreams — this is GS! It is all about GS and sure it costs money, it’s not cheap, but with this event we can position ourselves in the motorcycle industry, there is no other company like us doing anything like this. I don’t think there is any other company who can do anything like this except BMW. And at BMW head office we know this is a great event, it makes friends, it makes community. The whole thing about this is that everyone talks about it and I’d like to think everybody who rides a motorcycle in the world would like to join us. This would be a perfect target, so everyone feels and gets the spirit of GS and GS Trophy.

“Personally it was most important for me to join the GS Trophy this year — I was looking forward the whole year to coming to these days and join in. As you see now, here at the finish, after seven days these people are arriving at their final destination, they are exhausted, but they are excited, they are jubilant, singing altogether, it is fantastic and once again I cannot put this into words, people have to experience it.

“For me, it is very important that we continue with the GS Trophy, this is something I’d like to continue forever, although we can never know the future. But my plan is for it to continue into 2014 for certain and already I have a nice destination in mind, very exciting. The countdown to GS Trophy 2014 has begun!”

BMW Motorrad GS Trophy 2012 South America results
  1. Germany – 256
  2. France – 238
  3. Italy – 222
  4. Argentina – 215
  5. Alps – 202
  6. USA – 201
  7. Canada – 197
  8. CEEU – 196
  9. UK – 188
  10. Latin America – 181
  11. South Africa – 178
  12. Russia – 149
  13. Brazil – 120
  14. Spain – 109
  15. Japan – 89