Team Singapore’s hopes of reaching the Olympic Games of motorcycling have ended. But for the three riders it was an experience to savour
SEPANG, MALAYSIA – The road to BMW Motorrad GS Trophy 2020 ended for Team Singapore on Sunday.
Over the weekend BMW riders competed in regional finals at Sepang in Malaysia, where competitors from six countries fought for a coveted spot in New Zealand next year.
In the end, it was homeboys Team Malaysia who managed the day’s obstacles and challenges best. They head to New Zealand in February to battle BMW riders from around the world.
The GS Trophy is an intense riding adventure-cum-competition for the best amateur off-road riders. Teams compete in the BMW-organised event every two years representing their countries. The competition has been likened to the Olympic Games of enduro bikes.
Flying the Singapore flag in the regional finals were Razali Bin Mohamed Amin, Mohammed Shiblee Bin Mustafa and (both of whom ride BMW R 1200 GS Adventure motorcycles) and Mathew Wilkinson (who rides an F 850 GS), pictured left to right below.
Apart from the Malaysia team, at Sepang they were up against three-man crews from Indonesia, Taiwan, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam. They finished a creditable fourth ahead of Philippines and Indonesia in joint second place, with Vietnam and Taiwan bringing up the rear.
Making it to the regional finals in the first place involved a tough qualifying weekend for Singapore riders at Ulu Choh Dirt Park in August, where a field of 19 competitors were whittled down to the three contenders who rode at Sepang.
While critical of his own riding, Razali was gracious about the winning squad. “I could have done better. I made some stupid mistakes. It’s just not our time, I guess,” he said. “The Malaysians were a very, very strong team. They definitely deserved it.”
At Sepang, riders faced five individual runs through a series of riding challenges, and also competed in team events.
The challenges tested the riders’ skill and precision, as well as their ability to work together as a team against the clock — one task involved guiding a blindfolded rider through a tight course.
One off-bike challenge riffed on the host country of the finals: a mock try-out for the New Zealand all-blacks.
Wilkinson described the day as “tough” after his individual run. “The challenges are quite real. The terrain is mixed and varied and it’s got some very good slippy sections,” he said. “I didn’t drop the bike but I certainly didn’t do a flawless run.”
While the regional finals were no picnic, Team Singapore breezed through the team events, but lost out to teams whose riders made fewer mistakes in their solo runs.
Yet, the three riders remain undaunted, and made it a point to enjoy themselves in the competition regardless of the result. “The enjoyable part is the team spirit. You see all the teams from other countries cheering us on, and us cheering them on. So that’s the good part,” said Shiblee. “It’s like a family.”
Razali, Shiblee and Wilkinson may not have made it the GS Trophy 2020 New Zealand, but having formed lifelong memories and friendships along the way, they’ve certainly tasted the spirit of the event.