From left: Eugene Fourie, Mark Dickinson, Ezelda van Jaarsveld, Mark Dickinson, Linda Steyn and Chris Meyer. Pictures: BMW SA

Amersfoort, Mpumalanga - These three men and two women are South Africa’s best BMW off-road riders, the top five of 28 finalists who competed last weekend for a place on the South African team that will take on the best in the world at the International GS Trophy in Mongolia during June 2018.

The International GS Trophy began in South Africa in 2004 as the GS Challenge as a test of riding, adventure and teamwork skills, open to all non-professional BMW riders. But just getting to Country Trax at Amersfoort, home of the legendary Jan ‘Staal’ du Toit, was an achievement. The 28 finalists were selected from hundreds of GS riders at six GS Trophy SA regional qualifiers, held across the country in March 2017.

The top three from each region made it to Amersfoort, along with the top nine women, irrespective of where they came from. The women would not be competing for a place in the SA team (although women have succeeded in winning selection for national GS Trophy teams in the past). his year SA’s two top lady GS riders would instead got through to the next round to compete against women from around the world in November 2017 for one of just three places on the International GS Trophy Women's Team.

For three long days the 28 finalists had had their riding ability, endurance, technical skills, teamwork and mental toughness tested to the limit and beyond during 19 exercises - each designed by Du Toit to be just this side of impossible.

But in the end there could be only three - and they are Mark Dickinson and Eugene Fourie from Gauteng and Chris Meyer from the Eastern Cape. They’re all too aware that they have big tyre track to fill; their predecessors, Charl Moolman, Byron Coetsee and John Harris, were the outright winners of the previous edition of this biennial competition in 2016 in Thailand.

The two women who will go through to the final selection for the Female Team are Linda Steyn and Ezelda van Jaarsveld. If they make it, they will join Dickinson, Fourie and Meyer, and 14 other teams from Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Latin America, Mexico, Russia, Southeast Asia, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States for seven days of some of the toughest riding in the world, to strict time schedules, punctuated by skills tests, mental and physical challenges and monumental sleep deprivation.

Your brother’s keeper

There are no individual prizes on the GS Challenge - it is the team with the best combined score that wins, so you are as responsible for the performance of your team-mates as your own.

The five South African riders will be kitted out by BMW, flown to Mongolia and mounted on brand new, personalised BMW R1200 GS motorcycles for the duration of the event.