Tracks in the sand.

How the fathers of the GS successes gave birth to a legend.

Gifted hands were responsible both for creating the BMW GS and for riding it. They smoothed the off-road trails for the bike and made it into an icon for rally and off-road sport. In the high-class manufacturer HPN, the fathers of the GS come together to relive the history they themselves helped write. 

The epicentre of the BMW rally performance is far out. Specifically: in Seibersdorf. There are barely 300 inhabitants of the place close to the Austrian border. 60 kilometres to Passau, 70 to Salzburg. This is where Alfred Halbfeld and Klaus Pepperl created a rally empire with their motorcycle brand HPN, which is renowned beyond the borders of Bavaria, Germany and Europe. They have called this place home since 1982. Back then, they converted what was once an inn into a residential building, and made the agriculture their workshop. Desert Racers are now displayed where the guests' horses were once sheltered.

On the first floor is the warehouse, which accommodates the entire BMW rally range of spare parts twice over. Thousands of parts, neatly arranged. In impeccable condition. Or battered – like a crooked swinging arm from Gaston Rahier, which for Klaus Pepperl is not rubbish, but "a beautiful monument of the Paris-Dakar". Rally history is alive in every nook and cranny of the estate. It is the history of HPN, of the Paris-Dakar rally, of BMW Boxers. Of failure, but above all of success. Of stamina-sapping night shifts in Seibersdorf and even more stamina-sapping days in the deserts of Africa with the whole BMW Motorrad team. It is the history of the fathers of the GS. 

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Like a phoenix from the ashes

On the way to the Six Days GS.

As an employee in BMW's testing department, Laszlo Peres was involved with the building of the Six Days GS from 1980.

On the way to the Six Days GS.

Laszlo Peres crosses the courtyard full of purpose to meet his old friend. It has been well preserved: blue frame, white tank, black seat bench, yellow windscreen – everything as it was back then, only the best. "This is 90 percent my baby", says the former employee of the BMW testing department almost reverently, whilst inspecting the details of the Six Days GS from 1980. In 1977, he completely rebuilt the predecessor GS 800 together with two colleagues. Because the German championship had announced an offroad sport class with over 750 cc for the coming season and BMW Motorrad wanted to use this as an opportunity to get back into offroad sport. The management released Laszlo from all his other duties for three months so he could focus on building the prototype. "From the chassis to the materials, it was all new territory", he says. A dry weight of just 142 kilos set standards compared to standard motorcycles. 

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From the race circuit to series production.

"I have a lot of ties to it", Laszlo Peres says about the Six Days GS.

From the race circuit to series production.

This attracted attention at the 1978 championships as well. As an ambitious offroad sportsman, Laszlo rode his machine himself and immediately became runner up. The foundations had been laid and the prototype was developed further into the GS 80, which is referred to by most as the Six Days GS. Because as part of a factory entry in 1979, the GS 80 brought home both victory at the German offroad championships and two gold medals at the Six Days world championships. The winning streak continued in 1980 and finally ended in the presentation of a standard version of the victorious motorcycle available for purchase: the R 80 G/S. With it, BMW established the new segment of touring and thoroughbred enduros. The blessed tinkerer Laszlo Peres was again among team of engineers who developed the bike. He remained loyal to the testing department of BMW Motorrad for a total of 37 years. 

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"
With our Paris-Dakar motorcycle from 1983, the tank and seat bench were missing. 30 years later, the former BMW factory driver Raymond Loizeaux happened to bring along discarded original parts and we were able to complete the bike. It is worth holding onto things.
"

Klaus Pepperl

Off to Dakar

A Boxer in the first training year.

Alfred Halbfeld (r.) shows Dietmar Beinhauer his treasures: the Paris-Dakar machines from '80 and '81.

A Boxer in the first training year.

A desert rally called the Paris-Dakar was suddenly on everyone's lips and quickly made a name for itself as the toughest rally in the world. Already in its second year in 1980, BMW Motorrad was on the starting line in Paris with two factory machines as an experienced offroad sport player. The riders: Hubert Auriol and Fenouil. Motorsports director Dietmar Beinhauer was in charge of the team's fate. "This was my biggest challenge at BMW", he recounts. Together with Alfred Halbfeld, he examines the Paris-Dakar machines in the HPN workshop. "In the first year, I built the motorcycles with an acquaintance at home in the garage", Dietmar Beinhauer recalls. Although the team paid an apprenticeship premium in the first year, the superiority of the boxer engine immediately became clear. 

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HPN and the overall winner.

With the HPN BMW from 1981, Hubert Auriol brought home the first Paris-Dakar victory for BMW Motorrad.

HPN and the overall winner.

In the following year, the motorsports director commissioned HPN with the conversion of three R 80 G/S. "Klaus and I, together with our third partner Michael Neher, the N in the company name HPN, put in night shifts to get the motorcycles ready in time", Alfred Halbfeld recounts. "We barely slept. But we got it all ready in time and were well prepared". Dietmar Beinhauer nods. "I always said: a race is won in the preparation. This is why I made sure that we had everything with us and that there were no surprises. I think this ultimately helped us win". And Hubert Auriol achieved victory for the team in 1981 and in so doing helped the R 80 G/S to fame and honour. "With our involvement with the Paris-Dakar rally, the GS became our main business. The whole team from back then can be very proud of this". 

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Icons among themselves

Schek’sches reunion.

"It should actually be at my place", says Herbert Schek (l.) mischievously to Klaus Pepperl.

Schek’sches reunion.

Klaus Pepperl beckons for Herbert Schek to follow him. He has something to show him up in the warehouse. Past countless neatly arranged parts from the BMW rally range, they finally stand in front of the R 80 G/S from 1983. It is the only one with a black chassis. Le Point is displayed as the sponsor back then on the tank, and above that is the name of the rider: AURIOL – the L is barely legible. "Yes, now that is something! You do know that it should actually be at my place?", Herbert Schek says mischievously. Memories are awakened of his dual career at the Paris-Dakar. In 1983, he built four BMW motorcycles for the rally. One for each of the riders Auriol, Fenouil and Loizeaux, and the fourth for himself. He was the oldest participant at 49. Hubert Auriol took home his second overall victory and Herbert Schek built four more machines the following year. 

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Winning machines in the memory.

Herbert Schek built the BMW with which Hubert Auriol won in 1983.

Winning machines in the memory.

The result of the Paris-Dakar rally in 1984 was overwhelming: Rahier and Auriol took first and second place with the light, reliable Schek BMWs. Loizeaux took fifth place, and Herbert Schek himself was victorious among the private riders in the amateur ranking. "That was my greatest success", he says. Despite his long list of offroad racing successes which stretches far back to the time before the Paris-Dakar rally. He was the German offroad champion 14 times and European champion twice. He took the gold medal 12 times at the Six Days world championships. "After 25 years at the Six Days, I was informed that I would no longer be permitted to take part in the world championships because of my age. I then took part in the Paris-Dakar rally for the next 15 years". At 84, he still takes part in classic enduros today. "The motorcycles must have been built before 1978, but not the riders. Of course, I can't win anything anymore", he says, laughing. "But the youngsters are happy. They would never have dreamed that they would be racing against me again". 

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"
After 25 years at the Six Days, I was informed that I would no longer be permitted to take part in the world championships because of my age. I then took part in the Paris-Dakar rally for the next 15 years.
"

Herbert Schek

At home in the desert

The signal red desert fox.

The HPN BMW from 1986 served as the standard for subsequent motorcycles, among others the Concept Lac Rose.

The signal red desert fox.

It is loud down in the courtyard. Eddy Hau has pushed his Desert Racer from 1986 out of the showroom and started the engine. That is sound. That is boxer. This particular boxer brought Eddy to Dakar. The vigorous roar of the engine is not the only thing that stands out. The signal red factory machine crafted by HPN and branded with Marlboro and Elf logos is also a visual highlight. No wonder it modelled for the 2016 "Concept Lac Rose". The concept bike that preceded the R nineT Urban G/S inherited the typical rally windscreen, the characteristic headlamp mask with high front-wheel cover, the large tank and the short rally seat bench. The legendary signal red over alpine white colour and the start number 101 were obligatory. 

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Reaching its destination reliably.

In 1986, Eddy Hau started in BMW Motorrad's Paris-Dakar works team.

Reaching its destination reliably.

"It was a great opportunity for me to ride for BMW", Eddy Hau says. "After I had achieved almost everything in offroad sport, the Paris-Dakar was the next level for me. I really wanted to experience this adventure for myself". He had now become part of the works team alongside Rahier and Loizeaux. They started with a slightly modified version of the winning motorcycle from 1985. Gaston Rahier entered the race as reigning champion with the goal of defending his title. But it turned out differently. Gaston Rahier fell and Eddy Hau finished the rally as the best BMW rider in eighth position. "I was amazed at the reliability of the GS. The trust in the motorcycle was the most important thing for me", he summarizes. After the season, BMW temporarily withdrew from the rally. But Eddy Hau had caught the fever. In 1988, he took part in the Paris-Dakar again with a private HPN BMW and promptly ensured headlines as the winner in the Marathon classement. 

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Boxer or single-cylinder

The fifth victory in Dakar.

Alfred Halbfeld, Berthold Hauser and Klaus Pepperl (f. l. t. r.) with the Paris-Dakar bike R 900 RR.

The fifth victory in Dakar.

It would be another ten years before BMW Motorrad would make its comeback to the Paris-Dakar rally in 1998. In the meantime, Dietmar Beinhauer had handed over the motorsport reign to Berthold Hauser. And there was another fundamental change: the F 650 GS was now the model of choice. "This had just been brought onto the market and was to show its worth in the rally", Berthold Hauser recounts. The single-cylinder was significantly lighter than its predecessor. However, it was unable to replicate its success. "It's an unwritten law that you first have to suffer through and survive a Dakar before you can even think about a victory". The F 650 GS proved its definite capability of being victorious in the following year: the Frenchman Richard Sainct won the fifth Paris Dakar for BMW Motorrad with the F 650 GS. "This was not just good for the model but for the entire brand image". 

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Gala performance for the millennium.

BMW Motorrad contested the last Paris-Dakar rally in 2001 with the R 900 RR.

Gala performance for the millennium.

In 2000, BMW then sent both the single- and the twin-cylinder to the race. The success was overwhelming. Sainct managed the overall victory with the F 650 GS, Gallardo took second place and Brucy took fourth. Lewis immediately took third place with the Boxer R 900 RR. "They were extremely hard times and highly emotional", Berthold Hauser sums up, "but I didn't want to miss a second". After the 2001 season, for which HPN built three R 900 RRs, BMW Motorrad withdrew from rally sport again. Berthold Hauser was motorsports director for 17 years in total and retired at the end of 2016. "The old days of the GS stay firmly rooted in people's memories", he says. And not only there: descendants like the Concept Lac Rose and the new Urban G/S show that the story goes on. "This is a good thing. We have created unforgettable sentimental value with the successes in the eighties. But if the great desert racers are a thing of the past faced with new regulations, the legend of the Dakar Boxer still lives on". 

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"
A GS is a true companion. Those who ride it once stay with it. Unless they switch to the Zimmer frame due to old age.
"

Berthold Hauser

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