Here they are the trio who have done all to secure their spot on the first ever BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy Women’s team! France’s Stephanie Bouisson emerged as the overall winner, followed by Australia’s Amy Harburg in second place, with South Africa’s Morag Campbell. It was all decided at the off-road Riding Academy in South Africa from 13 to 15 September at the Country Trax. The ten woman GS motorcycle finalists from UK, France, Spain, Iceland, USA, Canada, Brazil, Thailand, Australia and South Africa have been battling it out for this ultimate prize – a place on the first ever female team to contest the 2016 International GS Trophy – in Southeast Asia from 28 February to 5 March 2016.
After an intense series of 13 separate challenges for the BMW Motorrad GS trophy women’s team spot, over three competition days, France’s Stephanie Bouisson emerged as the overall winner, followed by Australia’s Amy Harburg in second place, with South Africa’s Morag Campbell close behind in third. All three ladies will go on to make BMW Motorrad history by forming the first ever female team to enter the BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy – the fifth edition of which will take place in Thailand next spring.
A worldwide search earlier this year for a trio of ladies to represent BMW Motorrad GS trophy women’s team produced a staggering 119 applications by girls from 29 different nations, all keen to show that they had exactly what’s needed to represent their country – and also their gender – in the most famous competitive off-road customer motorcycling event in the world. A jury decided on a shortlist of the ten most suitable females to go to South Africa for the qualifying event. The ten girls came from all continents (Europe, America, Africa, Asia and Australasia), with ages ranging from 26 to 46-years-old.
No sooner had the girls arrived than the challenges began – the first one being a race to pitch their tents for the night – against the clock. Further challenges on the first day included ‘Blindfold Cone’, ‘Fritz-garden’ (in homage to “Fritz”, the only person to complete this course with a 100 percent success record) and ‘Rope the Tree’. A welcome dinner followed but this wasn’t the end of the riding for the girls, who had one final challenge to complete – ‘The Maze’ – despite it being completely dark outside. Late in the evening the rankings were added up and the top three girls announced. Australia’s Amy Harburg had taken an early lead, while local lady Morag Campbell was in second, with Jennifer Huntley from the UK in third.
On 15 September – the final morning of the competition – there remained only two challenges to complete. The first challenge – ‘Elephant Turn’ – required the girls to ride approximately 50 metres through deep sand, turn their bike around a cone and then return to their starting point. The second was simply entitled ‘Skills Challenge’ yet it was anything but simple. There were a number of tough trial style obstacles to overcome on a flowing circuit designed to expose any weaknesses in riding technique, including a 360-degree ‘coffee-grinder’ pipe, a see-saw, a log-jump, riding the pavement, deep ruts and parallel logs, to name just a few. Their final challenge was to strike their tents, pack their bags and await the results.
- Stephanie Bouisson (France) – 1931 pts.
- Amy Harburg (Australia) – 2098 pts.
- Morag Campbell (South Africa) – 2153 pts.
- Jennifer Huntley (UK) – 2824 pts.
- Inga Birna Erlingsdottir (Iceland) – 3046 pts.
- Iciar Tatay (Spain) – 3280 pts.
- Caroline Stevenson (Canada) – 3415 pts.
- Kim Krause (USA) – 4146 pts.
- Rosa Freitag (Brazil) – 5621 pts.
- Dusita Nasuriyawong (Thailand) – retired.
WHAT THE WINNERS HAD TO SAY
Stephanie Bouisson (France)
“I did the GS Trophy France qualifier event last May, and some time after this, my friends told me to try to apply for the chance of a place at this new women’s qualifying event. I thought ‘why not’ because I wanted to experience South Africa. I was really surprised to get through and was really looking forward to a great new adventure, making new friends and riding over here. To have actually won the qualifying event is incredible for me and I’m very proud to be representing all the lady riders around the world at the International GS Trophy in Thailand next year.”
Amy Harburg (Australia)
“I was so excited about coming here for this qualifying event. I had high expectations for myself, but it was hard to gauge what the other girls would be like until we were all together. But my expectations were definitely exceeded by the time we’ve spent in South Africa and to actually make the team is amazing for me. I can’t wait to go to Thailand and show BMW enthusiasts worldwide how these GS bikes can be ridden and what we can all do together. My team-mates are incredible so I can’t wait to be part of the first ever women’s team with them.”
Morag Campbell (South Africa)
“My expectations coming to this GS Trophy female qualifying event were to have fun and enjoy myself, but I didn’t realise just how much I would learn in the process. It’s been a whirlwind of people offering their help, sharing their knowledge and helping me experience a real sense of community that’s just been amazing. I think I’m still in shock really to have made it to the final three. There are five months ahead of us now before the main event so I’ll be learning new skills on the GS and keeping in touch with Stephanie and Amy. It’s going to be awesome!”