CHIANG DAO, THAILAND — It’s official. The GS Trophy 2016 Southeast Asia has been won by Team South Africa, on the back of consistently strong performances during the week-long event.
Yet, while the South Africans entered the final day in the lead, they didn’t have it all their own way, with Team UK and Team Germany both in the hunt for overall victory until the final Special Stage of the event, a motocross-style challenge within a closed area that offered 40 points to the winner.
In the end, the Germans and Brits ended up joint best of the rest, with a tied score of 268.
The day began badly for Team Southeast Asia when Peerapat Woratham, the team’s Thai rider, beached his BMW R 1200 GS at the crest of a hill during a sharp twist-n-turns challenge. That cost the team dearly and ended up nabbing them just two points for finishing last.
But during the final challenge of the day, supporters gathered in droves to watch all three members in action.
Malaysian rider Faizal Sukree enjoyed a boost from a large contingent of his countrymen, many of whom had ridden up to the Chiang Mai province over several days.
But it was local hero Peerapat Woratham who received the most intense attention. He ended up providing the most spectacular finish to the GS Trophy for the team, with an impressive flying wheelie at the last obstacle of the last challenge.
Perhaps a little too fired up by the cheers of the crowd, Woratham launched himself over the crest of a hill in a manner that would have impressed a NASA engineer. He landed hard on the taillight of the bike, but somehow managed to hang on to it and make it to the finish.
With the event now over, the team has held on to 16th position out of 19, a position it shares with Team Japan. Both teams were tied with 138 points.
It meant that the home team finished ahead of Team Alps (made up of riders from Austria and Switzerland), the International Female Team.
It’s a result that pleased Woratham. “I’m smiling, because it turned out better than we thought. One, our team had no training together (before the event). Two, this was the first time I was riding the R 1200 GS,” he said. “The riding was fun, and the exercises were exciting,” he said.
“If the Southeast Asia team had more time to practice together, I think the final positions would have been different.”
In spite of the general feeling that they failed to live up to their potential as a team, all three members took fond memories home with them.
“We got to ride with people from different countries every day, and it’s really nice to ride with like-minded people, riders who have the same passion, the same pace and so on,” said Tommy Lee, who rode with the Singapore flag on his bike.
“My favourite moment of the week was when I fell down chasing the Italians on Day Two!” said Faizal Sukree, laughing. “But l had a favourite moment every day, even when we did the GPS challenge wrong — four idiots going in the wrong direction, on home turf!”
Team members are already thinking about how future competitors from our region can benefit from their experience.
“What’s important is that we analyse what we did wrong,” said Tommy Lee. “For future GS Trophy participants, we’ll offer as much advice as we can, and make sure that they don’t make the mistakes that we made.”
“My target was actually a top 10 finish, but you can only plan. But it was a great experience. This is sport, you cannot get depressed when you get a bad result,” said Faizal.
GS TROPHY 2016 SOUTHEAST ASIA FINAL STANDINGS
Rank Country Ppints
1 South Africa 299
2= Germany 268
2= UK 268
4 CEEU* 254
5 Latin America 244
6 Brazil 242
7 China 234
8 USA 229
9 France 208
10 Italy 200
11 Argentina 188
12 Mexico 181
13 Russia 180
14 Canada 176
15 South Korea 146
16= Japan 138
16= Southeast Asia 138
18 Alps** 117
19 International Female Team 116
*Central Eastern EUrope