Recap of Day 2.
Location: Lake Ohrid, Albania
Weather: Sun, 28º dropping to 16º in the mountains
Course: 164km: Berat Castle to Lake Ohrid
Terrain types: Tarmac 24km, mountain trails 140km
Tests: SP1: Metzeler Challenge, SP2: Akrapovic Challenge
SP3: BMW Motorrad Quiz
Top three male teams: 1. Thailand, 2. UK, 3. South Africa
Top three female teams: 1. Germany, 2. Mexico, 3. South Africa
Lake Ohrid, Albania. The BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy 2022 got down to serious business today as the riders found themselves on mountain trails for a long nine-hour riding day. Riding in the Central Mountain Range the trails headed east, all the way to Albania’s border with Macedonia, finishing on the shores of Lake Ohrid.
The GS Trophy riders were again up at dawn, but today instead of heading straight out it was instead straight in – to the first special test of the day, the Metzeler Challenge, set in the grounds of Berat Castle. Here the teams were required to remove the front wheel from an R 1250 GS, run with it to a compressor pump, accurately inflate the tyre to 2.0bar, then reinstall the wheel and finally push the bike to the finishing line. Simple enough, but for a fast time you need to know your tool sizes, and there are things to remember like which side the ABS ring is fixed, and not least that you should pump the brakes for safe riding. Slip up on any of these and you incur penalties. And in the heat of the moment even the most practiced teams can make mistakes – and they did!
Wheel changes complete, the GS riders headed onto the trails of the Tomorr National Park, known for, and now protected on account of its unique biodiversity. Here the trails wound through forests of beech and pine, while the trail, a mix of shattered limestone, rocks, sand and mud, was occasionally littered with the scat of the protected wildlife which include wolves and wild boar. While the impressive Mount Tomorr towered over the first half of the trail, later the trail descended to the broad valley floor of the Osum River creating an ever-changing, ever-surprising sequence of wilderness and rural vistas.
At the day’s halfway point, on a high pasture in Gramsh, the riders found their second special test, the Akrapovic Challenge – a technical trial test, against the clock with the usual penalties for dabs, out-of-course excursions, crashes etc. With a steep drop-in and exit it was a test of skill and nerve and posed that eternal conundrum – go slower and minimize mistakes or ride faster and hopefully off-set the penalties with a quick time.
The afternoon was given over to a long three-hour trail ride that again rose high into the mountains of the Central Mountain Range. After ascending a tough, sustained rocky climb the trail reached a maximum height for the day of 1524m. The trail then led through an area of high pastures where shepherds were tending their sheep. After riding through a forest with many mudholes and rock sections – found together for maximum technicality – the trail eventually started a long hour’s descent to the finish, and the GS Trophy’s second UNESCO world heritage experience, Lake Ohrid, Europe’s oldest lake.
After the day’s test results were tallied, we have new leaders in the male competition. After Team UK incurred costly penalties in both of today’s tests it’s now Team Thailand who lead the competition, while reigning champions Team South Africa has closed in on the leaders. In the female competition the German team have continued their good form to extend their lead, while Team Mexico has displaced Team South Africa for the runner-up position.
Tomorrow the GS riders face a 200km ride south, through the mountains to a finish close to the Greek border as the GS Trophy continues its exploration of this fascinating country.
Kyle Robertson, Team UK: “We were as shocked as anyone to have won both tests yesterday as we’ve only been together as a team a couple of times, but it couldn’t have gone any better. Today, it’s gone the other way, we made a mistake in the wheel change – annoying because we knew what to do, but in the heat of the moment you make mistakes. Likewise, we made a couple of mistakes in the trial, it’s not easy to achieve that balance between speed and getting it right. The riding today was exceptional, the beauty of this country is amazing; I’m not going to want to go home after this is over – and do I really have to give the bike back?!”
Teresita Rivas, Female Team Latin America: “It’s so great to be here. In 2019 I rode in the Columbia qualifier and I made it through to the International Female qualifier in Spain, but I didn’t make the final six that went to New Zealand. This time, a friend said, ‘try again, don’t give up, there’s nothing to lose’, and now I’m so glad I did. What a wonderful experience. I had an idea of what to expect of Albania, but that was nothing as to what you find when you actually get here, the landscapes are incredible, amazing. Your mind cannot create this, you have to see it.”
BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy 2022
Day 2 overall standings:
1. Thailand 66 points
2. United Kingdom 62
3. South Africa 52
4. Germany 37
4. China 2022 37
6. Korea 36
7. Japan 35
8. Netherlands 32
9. China 2020 31
10. USA 29
11. Latin America 28
12. India 26
13. Brazil 23
14. Mexico 18
15. France 17
1. Germany 76
2. Mexico 66
3. South Africa 64
4. France 62
5. Latin America 54
6. Brazil 42