For the first time in its history, the BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy will be taking place in South-East Asia in early 2016, in Thailand. That’s not the only ‘first’ though, because among the 19 teams taking part in next year’s event will be an all-female team of three women motorcycle rider’s who will first have to win their place in the team at a special eliminator qualifier in South Africa this coming September.
With an increasing amount of BMW Motorrad GS bikes sold to women, and more ladies exploring their passion for off-road adventure riding, it’s a logical step to introduce some woman power into the BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy. The online ‘call to action’ produced 119 applications and videos by girls from 29 different nations, all keen to show that they have exactly what it takes to represent their country – and also their gender.
The tough job of studying these videos and written applications in detail went to a dedicated jury that included BMW Motorrad South Africa Ambassador and certified off-road instructor Jolandie Rust; Dr. Ralf Rodepeter – Head of Brand and Product Management BMW Motorrad; Svenia Ohlsen – Head of Brand Experience BMW Motorrad; Tomm Wolf – the ‘face’ of the GS Trophy; and Stephanie Rowe, the sole female rider in the 2013 “One world. One R 1200 GS” tour. The jury met at BMW Motorrad Days in Garmisch-Partenkirchen on Saturday 4 July and after much deliberation due to the quality of applicants, eventually decided on a shortlist of the ten most suitable females to go to South Africa for the qualifying event.
Between them, they share a wealth of talent, experience, ambition and determination to take on the boys in next year’s BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy. From the applications, it’s clear that none of these GS women riders are there just to make up the numbers. Here’s what they have to say about themselves…
Amy Harburg (40) from Brooklyn in Australia: “I have participated in five BMW GS Safaris and I am the only female to participate in the GS Safari Enduro, which takes GS riders to remote parts of Australia and tests them and their bikes through rocky hill climbs, deep sand and difficult water crossings. I have also taken part in a 14-day, 7,500km off-road rally in Australia as part of a two-girl team, with no support vehicle and all spares, tools and clothing carried between us. I would love the opportunity to be part of this GS Trophy female team because for me it would be the ultimate in encouraging other women to get out there and discover where their GS machine can take them.”
Jennifer Huntley (45) from Swansea in Wales: “I’ve completed every level of the BMW Off-Road Skills courses as well as the Enduro school. I ride an R 1150 GS that I’ve had for eight years, but my favourite is my R 80 G/S that I’ve owned for 18 years. I’ve used this for everything – from travelling in London traffic to riding around the continent, as well as riding off-road. It likes to go everywhere I go and I believe my riding skills are good enough for me to compete against the men’s teams. My ambition for the female team is to show how good we can be!”
Kim Krause (43) from Tracy, USA: “As a member of the ‘Dirty Girls’ (a group of female off-road riders) I understand what it means to challenge myself to be the best rider I can be while riding within a group of women. Representing female riders is what I live and ride for on a daily basis. My life’s mission is to open this sport and show the world what female GS riders are made of: we are strong, motivated, courageous women who understand the resilience that is needed to compete, in a sport that is so dominated by men. Being a part of a team of women with the same drive and passion makes me so excited! Words can’t describe the emotion which fills me knowing that I may be able to contribute to opening the world of GS adventure riding to other women.”
Inga Birna Erlingsdottir (37) from Mosfellsbaer in Iceland: “I bought my BMW GS in 2008. At that time Iceland did not have a BMW dealer and I had to import my GS from Denmark. Currently I am the only GS girl in Iceland, so hopefully I will be able to inspire more women in Iceland to find their passion in GS riding. I work as a motorcycle police officer – the only female one in Iceland. Being a part of the first international female GS Trophy team would be the ride of my life, an unforgettable adventure I would share with a team of amazing girls. It will be a challenge where we push ourselves to our limits and help each other to do so.”
Stephanie Bouisson (30) from La Foillade in France: “Motorcycling has always been my passion. I love team spirit and helping each other. I’m fascinated by the BMW GS and would love to take part in the GS Trophy and prove exactly what women can do with this motorcycle. In 2013, my BMW dealer contacted me to participate in the French GS Trophy with my F800GS. I ended up fifth in 2013 and eighth in 2015, out of 150 participants. I really appreciated the spirit of the events and the solidarity of the BMW riders. I would be really proud to be part of the first international GS Trophy female team, and prove that women have their place in such a competition.
Iciar Tatay (26) from Valencia in Spain: “I am passionate about the motorcycle world and especially BMW. Coming from a family that has always been involved in the off-road competition world, I first rode a dirt bike when I was just seven-years-old. As the daughter of the owner and founder of the BMW Enduro Park in Aras Rural, Spain, I’ve taken part in many training programmes, events and off-road trips to Africa. I believe that my experience and my passion for the motorcycle world makes me a good asset for the International GS Trophy female team for 2016.
Dusita Nasuriyawong (30) from Samutsakorn in Thailand: “My experiences riding BMW motorcycles in Thailand and neighbouring countries such as Vietnam, Malaysia and Laos have convinced me that I would love to work and ride with different people and different nationalities at the GS Trophy, which is the one of the greatest experiences I could have. I feel so excited and would be proud to rise to the challenge of joining the all-female team and helping promote my country and letting the world know more about Thailand, the host nation of the GS Trophy 2016.”
Rosa Freitag (45) from Sao Paulo in Brazil: “It would be one of the greatest achievements of my life to be part of the first International GS Trophy female team. I am really passionate about this and put all my efforts into my preparation. When it was announced that the R 1200 GS was to be used for qualifying, I immediately went on a training session (after getting a super-low seat made – I am only 5’3”!), and I must admit it is a friendly bike. Of course it will be amazing to go to South Africa to meet and congratulate Jo Rust for all she has achieved for herself and for us women riders in such a short period, but I really see myself as an ambassador of the GS Spirit as a GS Trophy Team Girl!”
Morag Campbell (43) from Johannesburg in South Africa: “I love riding, adventure and engaging with new cultures and new people. I love sharing knowledge, gaining knowledge and being challenged. As for the BMW R 1200 GS, I fell in love with it after just two seconds of riding! Through riding, I have understood how to live in the moment and become open to all the opportunities. I believe that a woman can be intellectual, adventurous and fun, and in taking part in this competition, I’d like to represent what BMW biking can do for anyone – and everyone.”
Caroline Stevenson (46) from Lethbridge in Canada: “I have a passion for the R 1200 GS adventure bikes, having owned a number of them since 2002. They match my spirit: tough, hardy, resourceful, independent. I also love to ride with friends as we need each other to get through the difficult spots and to celebrate our victories whether they are big or small. I will hopefully become an off-road certified instructor in the future. The opportunity to be part of the first all-female BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy team would be thrilling and will open doors to show all women the way forward. I absolutely want to be part of this!”
Now the 10 female winners have been selected, they will head to South Africa in September to meet each other in person and then take part in a qualifying event at the Country Trax Rider Training Academy. There, they will go head-to-head where their performance and potential will be assessed in a number of different scenarios. Points will be awarded to help determine the top three that will write history and make up the first ever female team for the BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy 2016.