Day 6 is in the books!
The penultimate day of the 2022 GS Trophy has wrapped up, leaving one final day of competition. Shuffling the rankings is on every team’s mind, whether they are looking to move up or hold on to their spot. Whatever their desired outcome on the day, they know they will be facing two more Special Stages and more spectacular riding in the wilds of Albania.
The routes today took teams over 250 kilometers of beautiful roads and trails, 150 of which were off-road. One rider from the field declared it was “hot as balls” at 95°F (35°C) with high humidity most of the day, but beautiful. The last section of the day took riders through the Karavasta Lagoon, a gorgeous protected wetland on the edge of the Mediterranean Sea and known an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International.
At the end of the riding day, competitors found themselves back at their very first camp of the competition, where they will spend the final two nights of the event with their tents pitched along the beach for the last time.
Long before the riders ended their day, they faced two Special Stages. The first was the BMW ConnectedRide ComU1 Challenge. We have seen something similar to this in the past, but the marshals really made this a tough one. The first rider was blindfolded and had to ride through the course, receiving directions from their teammates on which way to go. In the past, we saw this challenge have team members on the sideline guiding the team rider, but this year there was a special twist. The other team member for the women’s teams—or both other members for the men’s teams—also had to ride the same course while giving the instructions. Just to make it a bit tougher, trials rules applied—time counts, no drops and only the blind rider was allowed to dab.
Following a couple more hours of riding, the team came to the second Special Stage, the INEOS Gladiator Challenge. INEOS is a sponsor of the event, and have provided all of the hardcore overlanding trucks used for the crew. The name of the vehicles is the INEOS Grenadier, but the Gladiator Challenge involved two team members dragging a Grenadier by a length of strong rope across a course while the third member sat in the truck like a gladiator driving his chariot. The challenge was held in the ancient stadium on Amantia; among ruins from the 5th century BC, the teams could almost imagine 4,000 spectators the Illyrian sporting area once held.
With a good time on the second challenge, Team USA took third place in that challenge, helping keep their score high enough to retain their 4th overall position. However, they now share 4th place with China 2020, and are right behind Team Germany in 3rd place and 30 points back from South Africa (1st) and UK (2nd). The German women’s team tried valiantly to hold onto 1st place for the sixth straight day, but the South African women made a great showing and took over.
Tomorrow everything becomes nail-bitingly exciting. There is only one Special Stage left and it is a riding challenge. This final challenge will be intense and difficult, but it will be worth double points. That means the leaderboard order can shuffle in a big way. The competitors will have the final stage on their mind for their final 80 kilometers of intense riding. They will strategize, come up with a game plan, and ride their hearts out.
But it is the last day. The teams will all cheer each other on. They will high-five and hug, and when they are finished, they will repack all the gear they are not using for their final night and head to an amazing party. Tomorrow night will be the night to watch the final results and you should not miss it. The results will go out live on BMW Motorrad’s Instagram and Facebook, brought to you by long-time MOA member and BMW Motorrad Brand Ambassador Shawn Thomas. Tune in and watch along with the rest of us to see how it all ends!