France is the best team of the day.

South Africa still on top but leaderboard closes up.

What a penultimate day at the Int. GS Trophy. Fantastic riding liaisons leading to two entertaining special stages and then a dream ride through beautiful landscapes to the picturesque Camp Hoyor Zagal. Now the participants are within striking distance of the capital Ulaanbaatar and the final day of the competition.

,Little Gobi’.

It was a welcome return to sand riding for (most of!) the participants today as they left the Camp Khatan Ugij on a 210 kilometre ride east through undulating hills and wide plains. The route took the teams through a unique desert environment, with plenty of challenging trails, camel-grass and deep sand that demanded maximum focus from the riders. As the temperatures climbed into the 30s, the teams arrived at the first Special of the day — a slow riding skills challenge.

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Slow ride.

Slow ride.

Over a marked course, with a right-angled turn, the teams took it in turns to ride as slowly over the course as possible, without putting a foot down (penalty). The clock started when the third rider crossed the start line — and finished when the first rider crossed the finish line. The longest time taken would win the day..

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Trials riding skills came to the forefront here, and it was clear to see which teams had worked together on an exercise like this. Many team riders demonstrated excellent slow-speed skills and excellent machine control on the big R 1200 GS Rallyes. However, the biggest surprise came from Team France, who started the course together and then stopped completely — supporting each others bikes with their feet on the engine protection bars — and held themselves motionless for what seemed like an eternity. It was a brave move that could have gone badly wrong, but in this case they were head and shoulders above all their opponents, and won this Special by a considerable margin. 

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"
It was a case of ‘double or quits’ and we took our chances, so we were delighted when this gamble paid off!
"

Paul Basseville, #141, Team France

A winning habit.

The route to the next Special Stage was equally impressive for the team riders, with GS dust trails visible for several kilometres across the arid valley. Hence, the location for the ‘Shell Challenge’ could be seen from some distance, as it took place high on a rocky outcrop with mesmerising and memorable views for those who had time to appreciate them. The challenge itself came down to this: two fuel canisters had to be carried on the back of the R 1200 GS Rallye by a pillion while its rider negotiated a tight, rocky course against the clock. Each team member had to ride the bike and also be a pillion once. 

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"
We were first to go and felt like we did well but you never know the final results until the evening.
"

Manuel Andreu, #202, Team Mexico

Anything can happen now.

Anything can happen now.

In this exercise, putting feet down wasn’t penalised as it was almost impossible not to at times. However, dropping the bike meant instant disqualification, as several teams found out to their dismay on the very first lap. However, it was again Team France who displayed a growing confidence in their abilities and triumphed for the second time today by winning this Special and moving right into contention as a result. 

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As usual, there was great interest as the results of the day were posted on the leaderboard, especially as there is only one competition day remaining and triple points are on offer in the final Special. By winning today’s two Specials, Team France moved up to third in the rankings, while Team USA consolidated their second place in the rankings with an impressive and consistent day. And while Team South Africa didn’t have the best day in the field, they won the second photo contest and gained a valuable 25 points due to their community’s efforts amazing efforts in the voting, which helps ensure that their team still has a lead of 43 points over their nearest rival (see full results below).

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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.