GS Trophy 2012


Pulmari, Argentina. Team Latin America leads the GS Trophy tonight after impressive performances in the first two tests of the 2012 event. Team France and Team Argentina – like Latin America, making their debut in the GS Trophy in this the third edition – are in close attendance placing second and third.

This first day of this prestigious seven-day adventure event saw the 15 international teams ride a 250km gravel-road and off-road course that took them from the event’s start at Trailanqui Resort near Temuco in Chile across the China Muerta ranges, over the border into Argentina, to finish at the Piedra Pintada Hotel and Resort on the shore of Lake Pulmari.

With clear skies and warm temperatures the riders might have anticipated a gentle introduction to the week, but the dry tracks made for extremely dusty conditions while ever-present rocks on the tracks led to punctures that would delay the progress of three of the teams, making for late finishes.

The highlight of the day was the highly technical off-road section climbing through the araocaria forests of China Muerta – 30 kilometres of often tightly twisting narrow sand track with steep climbs and tricky stream crossings. Difficult enough, but with impenetrable dust clouds left by previous competitors more than one rider experienced an exciting off-track excursion.

The tests today were based on technical riding ability – a trial section through the forest and ‘Magma turn’, an out-and-return timed ride with restricted u-turn (in reference to volcanic activity this area regularly experiences).

Yet for all the on-bike action much of the talk at the dinner table at the GS Trophy tonight was about the Patagonian experience. This a region of outstanding natural beauty, riding around snow-capped volcanoes is something new for so many competitors. Similarly the local peoples made a big impression, be it the horse-riding gauchos attending to their herds or the friendly and curious reception from the villagers met along the way – more than a few children were seen waving freshly presented Canadian flags!

The day, however, belonged to Team Latin America, having shown some highly refined riding technique.

David Fonseca Chinchilla, Team Latin America: “We weren’t expecting to lead, but we’re glad to hear that and so we’ve found renewed energies for tomorrow! We are so happy, this is a great event and so we couldn’t be happier. Everything went well for us, so we’re super-super happy!”

Other highlights:

Team France to the Rescue

On their first day of their first GS Trophy, Team France fully embraced the spirit of the GS Trophy when they stopped to help not one but two stricken teams. Team Canada’s Adrian Tobler had suffered a front wheel puncture, and the team were awaiting the return of a guide with puncture repair tools when Team France stopped to assist. Having thoughtfully packed their own puncture repair kit, the French riders – using only the tool kit on the bikes – fixed what was a double puncture and refitted the wheel within 20 minutes. Team France then rode just ten minutes up the trail to find Team Argentina’s Felipe Masionnave (and team) with a rear wheel puncture. Again the French riders stepped in and got their competitors running again with impressive speed.

Adrian Tobler, Team Canada: “We had to admire the skill with which they did the whole job, using only the most basic tools, they saved us a lot of time.”

Felipe Masionnave, Team Argentina: “I was really impressed when I heard Team France had only just come from helping Team Canada when they arrived to help us. They probably put an extra hour on their day helping our two teams – that’s a real selfless act. So a big thank you to them from us.”

Team France also impressed in the tests today, with polished riding techniques, and look a strong prospect for GS Trophy success.

Triumph Over Adversity

The GS Trophy organisational team were severely tested today as the rough conditions took its toll on the support vehicles with several punctures and mechanical failures. All made it to the end of the day, albeit arriving only just before dusk – some hours after most of the competitors had finished! There was also a triumph in managing the border-crossing of over 100 vehicles.

Tomm Wolf, GS Trophy organiser: “I must express our gratitude to the border control staff of both Chile and Argentina who had to cope with such a sudden and massive influx of vehicles and people on two very remote border crossings. Both worked intensively with us in the days leading up to this event so that we could make a speedy crossing and maintain the momentum of the event, it’s their willingness to help and support us that allows this unique event to travel where it does and make it so special.

“We had a good day on the course as well despite the challenges. We had a few incidents but only the one injury and I’m happy to say our event doctors were able to attend the rider and attend to his injuries in quick time (eight stitches to a cut) and he was then able to continue to the finish. I’m really happy that this was as bad as it got.”

GS Trophy 2012
Day 1 Results and Overall Standings:

1 Latin America 32pts
2 France 30
3 Argentina 27
4 Alps 25
5 Italy 23
6 Germany 21
7 Canada 18
8 UK 17
9 Russia 16
10 CEEU/Poland 14
11 Brasil 12
=13 USA 7
=13 Japan 7
15 Spain 4