The Indians are coming!

BMW Motorrad welcomes Team India to the Int. GS Trophy. 

Along with Team Australia, another huge country joins the Int. GS Trophy in Mongolia this June. Watch out fellow competitors, the trio from Team India are coming for you. 

Full of eastern promise.

Heading out on a group ride.

Full of eastern promise.

It’s always a pleasure to welcome a new team to the international finals, but Winston Lee, Suprej Venkat and Sanket Shanbhag will be carrying the considerable weight of a nation of more than one billion people, many of whom are becoming increasingly aware of the world of BMW Motorrad. For the three team-mates, this is quite a responsibility, but one they are proud to bear. 

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About Bollywood, hair styles and tattoos.

Winston Lee. 

About Bollywood, hair styles and tattoos.

“We’re really elated to be chosen to represent our country at the GS Trophy and being the first team from India,” says former Bollywood actor Winston Lee, who is also a trained hair stylist and tattoo artist, as well as being pretty handy on a GS. “It’s overwhelming to realise that we will always be the first Indian team at the Int. GS Trophy.”    

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Big GS, big scene.

Big GS, big scene.

Winston formed the ‘GS Riders India’ group back in 2015, simply because he wanted to share the joy of owning a GS with fellow bikers — frequently offering his own GS for test rides. The group recently had its first official meet with around 70 GS bikes and riders arriving from right across India. In a nation famed for its rickshaws and tuk-tuks, a big GS causes a scene wherever it goes. 

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Crazy country.

“It’s true that the GS attracts a lot of attention and it’s a lot of fun sharing our stories and information about these bikes with all the people,” says Winston proudly. “India is a crazy country — crazy and beautiful at the same time. I would certainly like to see more adventure riders exploring here.” There is so much India has to offer in terms of terrain, mountains, lakes, forests and seas. And a lot of rural areas don’t have proper roads. “That gives us all the more reason to ride our GS bikes there.” 

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Suprej knows how to jump on a big bike.

Winners already.

The growing GS Riders India community.

Winners already.

Home delights aside, it’s Mongolia and the Int. GS Trophy that occupy Winston’s thoughts right now, and he and the boys are taking the upcoming finals seriously, not least because of the strong pedigree of all the other established teams. He’s under no illusions that it will be tough out in central Asia, but ‘in order to win, first you’ve got to be in’, so for this opportunity he feels very privileged. “We are already winners in my mind. Just being chosen for the Int. GS Trophy is reward enough but we all have a competitive spirit and will definitely give it our best in Mongolia and try to finish in the top three,” he says optimistically.  

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Meet and greet.

This is a view that is shared by Winston’s team-mate Suprej Venkat, who is also looking forward to meeting fellow riders from across the world and making new friends. “India is a great country to tour and it would be our absolute pleasure to host some of our fellow ‘competitors’ whenever they decide to visit,” he says. “We’re really looking forward to meeting them all to exchange stories of the good times the GS has given us all.” 

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Fully motivated.

Fully motivated.

Suprej once harboured dreams of representing India on the cricket field but now runs a software company. His competitive instinct remains strong however, so this latest sporting opportunity isn’t going to be squandered. “I wasn’t good enough for international cricket so to now get the chance to represent India albeit in a different sport is absolutely mind-blowing. It has motivated me to work hard in the gym every day. Being a foodie, it has always been difficult to control what I eat but now with this inspiration, I am able to do it.”  

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Ever increasing scene.

Winston Lee leads a group ride.

Ever increasing scene.

After trying a friend’s GS a couple of years ago, Suprej realised they were the ideal bikes for India, given the endless off-road opportunities. So, he bought one and has since explored his country extensively as well as riding 10,000 kms across seven African countries. He thinks that the GS scene has huge potential in India. “Now that BMW Motorrad is here and with the publicity the GS Trophy has gained, I am sure it is just a matter of time before India becomes one of the biggest markets,” he says.

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When the cow crosses the lane.

Expert trainers are flown in from the official Enduropark Thailand to share their riding skills and knowledge with the group.

When the cow crosses the lane.

“There are fantastic roads and scenery here, but defensive riding is the only way to stay alive. Assume every car, bike, lorry, cow on the road will cut across your lane and always expect the unexpected. There are some phenomenal places for riders to see, and we would be more than happy to provide advice on route planning if any GS owners want to visit.” 

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Three’s not a crowd!

GS Rider Sanket Shanbhag. 

Three’s not a crowd!

Third team member Sanket Shanbhag is the least experienced of the trio when it comes to actual riding, although he has dreamed about long-distance travel ever since watching Ewan and Charley’s adventures on the TV. But when it comes to commitment and passion, the hotelier from Satara is right up there with team-mates Suprej and Winston.  “Traveling on a big bike has been my dream for as long as I can remember and being able to represent India in the Int. GS Trophy is a feeling of great pride with a feeling of responsibility to perform to my best ability and not let the team down.” Having completed extra skills training in South Africa and connected with many other participants via social media, it appears Team India are already a welcome addition to the GS family. Wish them well in Mongolia, where their enthusiasm will surely know no bounds. 

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