Team South Africa consolidates lead.

Strong Special Stages for Chris, Mark and Eugene.

Up and at ‘em.

A 5.30am start to the day is never easy for the participants but every one of them had packed away tents and gear, enjoyed a hearty breakfast, attended the daily rider briefing and still managed to make it to their bikes for the 7am staggered start. The first Special Stage — Ongi River — was located just 26 kilometres into the route, and as the name suggests, involved a certain degree of wetness.

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Put simply, it was a slalom course that involved all team members crossing the river four times on their R 1200 GS Rallye bikes, while negotiating a tight course through deep gravel — against the clock of course. On the face of it, the exercise seemed easy but put a film crew and an audience in front of the participants and the pressure to perform soon got the better of some of the teams. Despite some great efforts, and some remarkably entertaining attempts, the team that came out on top in the first special was South Africa.

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The next 150 kilometres saw the scenery change dramatically from a desert environment to green prairies, winding rivers and the start of mountains. The riding took on a new level, too, as the abundance of improved grazing meant lots more animals to be aware of on the trails. The route up to the second special stage — "Orhon View" — showed Mongolia in all its splendour with 360 degree panoramic vistas across rocky crags and deep river valleys, while eagles soared overhead.  

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"
This challenge looked easy, yet it caught many riders out — but I loved it.
"

Apis Sagimin, #232, Team Southeast Asia

Trials and tribulations.

"Orhon View" took place in picture-postcard surroundings but the participants didn’t have too much time to look around, as this Special involved all three team members negotiating a course that twisted and wound its way in-between big boulders, over small rocks and by-passing lots of natural vegetation. The scrape of metal against rock-face was heard all too frequently as participants let their nerves get the better of their clutch and throttle control, but every team’s effort was cheered on valiantly by all those watching. The best overall time to win this Special was set by Team South Africa again.

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And there’s more.

And there’s more.

When the teams had made the final 30 kilometre liaison to the camp for the night, they were given time to pitch tents and grab a bite to eat before lining up for the third special of the day — the "Metzeler Challenge". This was a tyre changing exercise that involved the removal and reinstallation of a Metzeler Karoo 3 tyre on a rear wheel of a R 1200 GS Rallye. The outcome was a lot of tired participants, a lot of cheering and a few well-worn tyre levers. Who was fastest? It was Team USA. 

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The evening didn’t end there because the scores from the three Specials needed adding up, as well as the results of the first photo contest adding to the overall points tally. After the teams had watched the highlights film of day 3 the leaderboard was revealed in all its glory. So, after day 5 of 8, it is South Africa who build a lead, with Latin America and Korea in second and third place respectively (full results below). The second photo contest goes live tonight at 23:59 Mongolian time (17:59 CEST) so GS fans around the world are reminded to vote for their favourite photo right here on gstrophy.com   

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Pure thrill every day.

A full program: a lot of challenging special challenges on eight days of riding.

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Suitable motorcycles.