It has been a punishing winter schedule of testing for BMW Motorrad Motorsport riders Troy Corser and Leon Haslam, so after the action-packed first round of this year’s Superbike World Championship was concluded at Phillip Island circuit in Australia, it was great for both riders to be able to kick back and relax with a couple of days riding – with no racetrack in sight…
The two BMW Motorrad factory Superbike racers are at the elite end of their chosen sport, where the difference between winning and losing can be measured in tenths of a second. It is a lifestyle that has its rewards but it is extremely hard work with untold amounts of pressure. Being able to relax is important – especially after a race weekend – and no sooner was the first round of the 2011 series complete, both Troy and Leon were taken on a magical mystery GS tour, courtesy of BMW Motorrad Australia marketing manager, Miles Davis.
Davis is a competent GS rider, who loves heading off into the magnificent Eucalypt and Mountain Ash High Country forests that are easily accessed from Phillip Island or Melbourne. His two special guests made this journey even more exciting.
This was an ideal opportunity for Troy and Leon to swap their works S 1000 RR race bikes for the legendary GS machines (F 800 GS and R 1200 GS), and a couple of days of dual-sport fun. Joining in the two-day expedition were a number of Australian motorcycle journalists, who had the rare opportunity of seeing the star riders in a different environment and spending the evening with them, chatting over a few beers and a meal at the Jamieson Pub.
The scenery and riding was spectacular, and consisted of many kilometres of alpine forest tracks, river crossings and deserted roads that follow the mountain contours. Much of this area is part of the natural water catchment area that keeps Melbourne’s 3.5 million people supplied with clear, clean drinking water.
Troy and Leon are well known for pushing their RRs to the limit in search of ever faster laps and race victories. However, as the journalists discovered, they are also pretty useful when it comes to handling a big GS on the rough stuff. Like many Superbike riders, Corser grew up racing off-road before switching to the tarmac, but retains a love of the dirt.
“The GS ride was great fun but not always very relaxing when riding, as we came across many big logging trucks and 4x4 cars going in the other direction, so you had to concentrate all the time,” said the two-times WSBK champion. “The surface conditions were also constantly changing as well, so you had to be ready for anything. I was impressed with the riding ability of Miles Davis and his leadership of the group.
“All of the journalists were good guys and the GS is a great bike. It’s very well suited for the Australian riding conditions, either on the road sections, but especially great for long stand-up wheelies on the dirt roads! My dad Steve and five of his mates did this very same ride about 15years ago and I hope to do it again next year. Thanks to the trusty BMW R 1200 GS, I got to see some parts of Australia that many people in the world would love to see. I want one now!”
The first day’s journey ended at the old gold mining town of Jamieson, which is a hidden gem for off-road riders. The return trip took in some magnificent Victorian High Country, with stunning views and challenging roads on which two of the world’s greatest Superbike riders were able to give their GS machines a solid workout.
As the group made its way back to Melbourne they stopped at the once picturesque village of Marysville, which was largely destroyed with the loss of many lives in the horrific bushfires of February 2009. The town is slowly coming back to life with reconstruction taking place and the locals always appreciate visits from motorcyclists who drop by to have a coffee and a meal. From Marysville there were some more back roads and dirt tracks all the way back to BMW Headquarters in Melbourne, and civilization.
For Leon Haslam, the trip was the perfect way to ‘wind down’ after the frenetic events of the previous days at the traditional WSBK season opener: “It was great to have a blast on the GS bikes with a super bunch of guys and just chill out, although it was pretty tough going,” said the Phillip Island podium finisher. “We did a lot of miles but I had a fantastic time. I was really surprised at how good the GS was – both on and off-road – as it was the perfect machine for this sort of riding. It was really great to see a different side to Oz too. Now I’m back in the UK and spending my time training and trail-bike riding, and focussing on the next round of the championship at Donington Park.”