Mlilwane Game Reserve, Swaziland – The competition for the GS Trophy hotted up dramatically on Monday as the 10 teams fought their way through four special tests while completing a 280km course. Team UK were in resurgent form. A mistake in the Monday’s navigation test had cost them dear, leaving them in sixth place, but winning two of today’s tests and taking second in another took them to the day win. Their impressive 44 point haul also leapfrogged them into the overall lead just ahead of Day One winners South Africa, with Germany in third.
After Monday’s mist and rain, today the competitors revelled in clear skies and comfortable temperatures, around 23ºC. With a 7.15 start time the teams rode to the Jan Randall’s Tractor Museum for two non-riding special tests. The first was a tractor pull, the second a matter of weaving a tractor wheel through cones. In the afternoon, once across the border into Swaziland, there were two riding tests, the first a crossing of a mud bog, the second a river crossing. The course itself was very different to the first day, with much of the journey following narrower red-soil tracks that weaved and undulated with the pine-clad Swaziland hills.
1st overall: Team UK: we got our act today
Alistair Allan: We had a good day, we got our act together. We took our time, thought about the tests, didn’t go rushing into stuff, and did what we are supposed to do. Day one we had a bit of a downer so we had a team talk and decided we’d come out fighting today, and we’ll fight to the end.
2nd overall: Team South Africa: we’ll adopt a new strategy
Roger Ryder Kane-Berman: Today, we tried hard and we worked consistently as a team but we definitely weren’t aggressive enough in the tests – we’ve noticed the other guys are really aggressive on the bikes. We were looking to keep our bikes going, not to damage anything, but it seems the answer is to ride it like a rental, go as fast as possible! So it’s a bit of a change of mindset for us. But no complaints we had a fantastic day, we had an awesome ride, the country here in Swaziland has been fantastic. We’re happy to still be in second and we will fight our way back tomorrow.
3rd overall: Team Germany: we’re a little bit crazy!
Dirk Remmel: Like typical Germans, we are trying to find the best solution with the best system, (no joke!) but you need a little bit of luck also – and we had it. We looked at what the possibilities were and Thomas (Donnecker) was really incredible jumping in the river with his bike, not pushing – jumping, a bit crazy! It wasn’t planned but it gave us a great result, nearly a win. So we are still within a range where we can push up to the other teams to the top and that is good feeling – we are ready for it!
Special test results
ST2: Tractor pull: 1, Team Nordic; 2, Team Canada; 3, Team Spain
ST3: Bulldog tyre: 1, Team UK; 2, Team Spain; 3, Team South Africa
ST4: Mud crossing: 1, Team Nordic; 2, Team UK; 3, Team Canada
ST5: River crossing: 1, Team UK; 2, Team Germany; 3, Team Canada
Smile, it`s border control
The competitors have been delighted by the reception they’ve received from the locals wherever they travel. Taking time out and sharing a few moments with the ever-inquisitive children – and adults – has been all part of the GS Trophy experience. But their reception at the South Africa – Swaziland border was a revelation as the riders shared jokes and posed for countless photographs with the border guards.
Marco Selvetti, with Team Italy: It was a lot of fun. We had no problems and they are so happy. The customs people in Italy are always so serious, they look at you and they are not sure you are a good person. Here they are nice people, we are nice people, too – and we even make photos, it is fun!
Team Nordic hit the highs – and lows!
Team Nordic joined Team UK with two wins today, in the tractor pull and mud crossing. But in the other two tests they were contrastingly bottom of the table. The ever-smiling Scandinavians explained it was all about teamwork – or rather a lack of!
Börre Skiaker: We feel like we are a new team, we are sometimes working very well, but we are sometimes caught out by the lack of training together. The tractor pulling was just down to manpower, it was easy – we just pulled with everything we could and that works well. But when we need to coordinate our skills we feel we are struggling to achieve the precision and coordination needed. Our problem is we did no group training; we met once at the final in Sweden and the next time in Frankfurt Airport – on the way here. So we are on the top or the bottom. Our aim now is to try to achieve a consistent result and get better and better.