South Africa lead after first test in GS Trophy.
Mpumalanga – The South African team played to their home advantage yesterday to take a strong win in the first special test of the GS Trophy 2010, a navigation challenge.
The first day saw the 10 international teams (30 riders) travel a 300km course, starting in Johannesburg and finishing at the Country Trax farm estate in Mpumalanga in the district of Amersfoort.
In sunshine and warm air, the early kilometres of the day were travelled on sealed roads. The last 130km, though, saw the teams’ first encounter with the red-soil gravel roads that traverse the region, just as the weather turned cooler and mists started to roll in. The tracks were deceptive, easily ridden at near motorway speeds but every now and again throwing up random ruts, holes and boulders. With bellowing dust trails it was important the teams rode with caution to arrive safely.
On reaching the Country Trax estate the teams met with their first points scoring special test, a navigation challenge. A second special test had to be abandoned as the mist turned to rain.
Special Test 1: Navigation challenge
The navigation challenge set the teams the task of finding five points on the Country Trax farm (within one hour) using map coordinates, which each team input into their own GPS navigation systems. At each point a marshal recorded their arrival.
Team South Africa won the challenge, but in fact quite narrowly as Germany were less than two minutes behind and Team USA just three more minutes behind them.
Gerber Styrdon, Team South Africa: “I think what put us ahead was we’d draw a straight line through the veldt to go from one point to the next. We were going through dongas – which are like big washaways – rather than taking the tracks which the other guys would take. We took the route less travelled to make the shorter time and that got us ahead at the end.”
Team Japan score a first.
Team Japan may have struggled in the navigation test, but they scored their own first when team rider Shigechika Aikawa became the first participant to crash! Aikawa was embarressed to report he’d fallen while sliding his F 800 GS trying to impress one of the TV film crews which are following the event. Fortunately Aikawa was uninjured.
Shegachika Aikawa: “I saw the camera man on a corner and I thought I would put on a bit of a slide, but it came all the way around! But it was okay; I only bent the gear lever. I am happy! I don’t worry.”
Team Italy – building bridges.
The navigation test also offered a few riding challenges, not least the need to cross a deep gully with a stream in the bottom. While most teams resorted to pulling and pushing their bikes through the obstacle, the Italian team distinguished themselves by scavenging some fallen timber to build their very own bridge! Top marks for ingenuity, but quite probably the time taken dropped them down the results.