GS Trophy Qualifier 2017
Tensions were high, and the competition close – more so than ever before – at the GS Trophy UK Qualifier this Bank Holiday weekend. More than 160 riders and their entourages arrived on Saturday night to check in to the Off Road Skills-organised event, before the action commenced early on Sunday. After completing a scored road ride, the competitors battled through a series of challenging off-road activities in an effort to win a spot in the grand finale and a chance to represent the UK at next year’s International GS Trophy in Mongolia.
While there were many skilled motorcyclists competing in the event, the difficulty of this year’s challenges meant that by the end of Sunday there was a clear group of forerunners
A second road ride on Monday morning preceded the lunch time announcement of the finalists.
Pete Twigg, Craig Keyworth and Ben Luker – who would go on to win the coveted spots on the UK team – were joined by Peter Urquhart, Tom Grayson, Richard Cox, Dave Bixter, Wil Linsen, Mike Wells, Rob Withey, Rob Mayes and Luke Milton.
On Monday afternoon, this dozen-strong group faced similar tasks to the previous day, albeit with added severity. The acceleration and braking test now began in a ditch, the already-tricky trials challenge had reversed direction, riders were now pitted against one another in the slow race, and a steeper section had been added to the hill climb. Their scores were reset to zero, and the aim was to collect as few points as possible along the way
Spectators watched with baited breath as the competitors wrestled the R 1200 GS Rallye through the obstacles, occasionally letting their nerves get the better of them and dropping, or worse, crashing the bikes.
When the four individual tests were over, the 12 were split into groups of four to complete a team challenge, which involved moving two bikes – one of which didn’t have keys – around a course and over obstacles.
Ingenuity shone through when the four leading retailer teams undertook the same challenge. When one section required the bikes not to touch the ground, various items of clothes were removed to create a path over which to roll it.
In the end 'Cotswold 3' took the team title, with Hurst and Rainbow 2 taking second and third places respectively.
The members of 'Rainbow 5' each had a point removed as a bonus after they helped to rescue a car from a ditch in the Brecon Beacons.
In the individual standings Pete Twigg came first, finishing Monday with only five points, followed by Craig Keyworth with six and Ben Luker with 10.
For the second time, the two highest scoring women will be heading off to a secret location later this year, where they will compete for a spot on the International GS Trophy Female Team.
Kirsty Hodges was the highest scoring of the 15 female entrants, finishing with 30 points, and Peta Hodgkinson was second, with 36 points.