“Survivor” Motorcycle-Style – One Woman and Five Men Vie for Three Spots on U.S. Team Competing Against World’s Best in Tunisia, October 15-24
Woodcliff Lake, NJ – August 27, 2008… Six intrepid motorcyclists – the “Spartanburg Six” – will travel to BMW’s Performance Center in Spartanburg, SC, August 28, to compete for three spots on the team representing the USA in the inaugural BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy in October. Following a day of technical skills competition, the “Spartanburg Six” will become the “Tunisia Three,” representing the USA at the international competition in Tunisia, October 15-24.

The six riders who will be evaluated at BMW’s Performance Center in Spartanburg (from an initial field of 96 applicants) come from all over the USA and include Jason Adams from New York; Bill Dragoo from Oklahoma; Kevan Harder from California; Brad Hendry from Colorado; Jim Stoddard from New York and Brienne Thompson from California.

Bill Dragoo, one of the “Spartanburg Six”, is delighted at his selection and at the age of 52, will be the oldest competitor.

“I feel blessed to make the cut as one of the six finalists for BMW’s GS Trophy in Tunisia and can’t wait to compete alongside four other men and one woman in Spartanburg, South Carolina. For me, this is the chance of a lifetime and should I succeed at Spartanburg, it will be the culmination of a lifetime of preparation for just such a challenge. It is a chance for one last hurrah, (hopefully not quite the last) and to represent the United States in a World Class event. I appreciate the prayers and support of my friends across Oklahoma and beyond.”

Brienne Thomson, the only female competitor, is a highly competitive young motorcyclist, who has racing experience both on- and off-road. She also competes quite successfully in triathlon events.

“The ability to ride with the best at BMW’s Performance Center on a brand new BMW F 800 GS is going to be an experience – an everlasting memory – no matter what happens,” said Brienne. “I’m honoured to be a part of the GS Trophy. As the only female in this high-ranking group, I will do my best to be an inspiration to other females to be involved in this sport of adventure. I am fully prepared to go to Tunisia; I have been to Africa before and I can’t wait to go back.”

In Spartanburg, four judges will evaluate the riding skills of the six riders in a series of technical challenges: an offset slalom course, circle drill, controlled ascents and descents, uphill slalom, sand recovery, sand relay, team trail challenge, barrel race and high speed maneuvering.

The Road to Spartanburg – The Selection Process

The prospect of a week-and-a-half riding in Tunisia on F 800 GS bikes with teams from Germany, Italy, Japan and Spain captured the imagination of GS fans throughout the United States, and nearly 100 riders made the first stage of the application process to be considered for Team USA. These riders were subject to an email ‘mental test’ specifically designed by a dedicated BMW team of moto-psychologists to determine whether potential participants had the right credentials to progress through to the next stage.

From the 96 initial applications – in many cases from superlative off-road riders with great experience and skill – the team selectors chose 20 semi-finalists that demonstrated the required levels of riding excellence, teamwork, character, physical fitness, a true love of the GS segment – and of course, a sense of humour under conditions of great stress.

All 20 successful riders were informed separately that they had advanced to the next round, while the 76 who didn’t ‘make the cut’ will receive a gift from BMW Motorrad to say thanks for participating and to encourage them to try again in 2009. The 20 International GS Trophy semi-finalists that remained were then subjected to further tests and all four judges commented that the process was quite difficult and took a lot of time to determine a final shortlist. The six chosen riders were then invited at BMW’s expense to participate in further testing at the BMW Performance Center, in Spartanburg, SC, on August 28.

This final test will decide which of the ‘Spartanburg Six’ (as they have become known) will become the “Tunisia Three” who will go on to represent the United States in the International GS Trophy in October. As BMW Motorrad USA’s Laurence Kuykendall explains, just getting down to the final six riders has been an extremely difficult task for his team.

“We’ve not only had many excellent riders to chose from, but the criteria was complex too, including not only riding ability and experience, but more intangible qualities like teamwork, personality, physical and psychological fitness, and the capability to spread the BMW faith. It would have been equally easy to end up with six other, equally deserving names, as the standard was so high, but as a consolation, there is always next year, when we will require new riders for the 2009 GS Trophy – wherever it might be!”

The BMW Motorrad 2008 International GS Trophy

The International GS Trophy is a skills-based contest with GS riders coming from all over the world for a final meeting to pick the best of the best in Tunisia, North Africa, October 15 – 24. The competition is not a race, but a lengthy and challenging ride, both on- and off-road, through the rugged countryside of Tunisia on new F 800 GS bikes. The event will include numerous tests in individual riding skills and group teamwork to overcome natural and manmade obstacles in the course of the ride.

A team of six riders will be selected to compete for the GS Trophy from each of the following BMW Motorrad markets: the United States, Germany, the UK, France, Italy and Japan. Three of the six riders will be journalists, while the remaining three will be GS owners selected by BMW Motorrad in each market.

The three GS owners selected to represent the United States in the 2008 International GS Trophy Competition will be required to report on their experiences on www.xplor.com. Therefore, writing, as well as riding, ability will be a criterion used to choose the GS Trophy competitors.

May the best riders win!