BMW G 650 Xchallenge Wins Mongolian Rally

BMW  Japanese rider Yoshio Ikemachi has won the 2007 BTOU Ulaanbaatar to Uvs international cross-country rally on a BMW G 650 Xchallenge.


Japanese rider Yoshio Ikemachi has won the 2007 BTOU Ulaanbaatar to Uvs international cross-country rally on a BMW G 650 Xchallenge.

Riding for Team X-Challenge, alongside French former Paris-Dakar rider Jean Brucy and Japanese counterpart Hidehito Ikeda, the trio also won the Best Team Award at the 10-day, 3,600-km international cross-country rally in Mongolia.

The BTOU is a long-distance endurance race organized by Japanese rallyists SSER and was first held in 1996 under the title of the ‘Mongolia Rally’. The BTOU originally featured a starting location in Beijing, China, but due to preparations for the forthcoming Olympic Games, the route was changed for 2007 to focus only on Mongolia.


It is a 10-day endurance race that starts in Ulaanbaatar and crosses the country westward to Uvs, before looping back to finish in Ulaanbaatar. The terrain encountered includes Eurasian prairie, Mongolian plateau, mountain passes in excess of 3,000 metres, water crossings and sand dunes. Challenges facing the riders are sleep deprivation, navigational difficulties, mirages, and camel grass – just like on the Dakar Rally. The rules are similar to the Dakar in that there are stages that include liaison sections and specials; and the competitors are racing during the specials and transferring locations during the liaisons.

This year marked the 13th anniversary of the rally in Mongolia and the struggle for victory was the most thrilling and memorable yet. The rally course was planned mainly in the northwest area of Mongolia so as to avoid the extreme heat of the Gobi Desert in summer.

Thirty-five-year-old Yoshio Ikemachi, riding the #1 G 650 Xchallenge, had won the event in 2006 and was hoping for a repeat success this year but was up against many other quality riders, including a KTM team made up of top Mongolian riders. The race itself was led by the KTM team from the beginning and their star rider Damdinkhorloo Boldbaatar held a seven-second lead going into the final day.


Riding the G 650 Xchallenge, Yoshio Ikemachi closed down Boldbaatar’s time advantage and managed to take the overall victory right on the final stage!

"I did not think it would come down to just a few seconds after nearly 4,000 kilometres of racing," said a delighted Yoshio Ikemachi. "I am good at navigation and noticed that competitors were following me, so I lost my advantage. But in the end it came down to a competition between the potential of the machines. The fact that I was only seven seconds behind at the start of final stage gave me a psychological advantage because I only needed to chase the leading rider. I had a really great battle with Damdinkhorloo Boldbaatar and naturally I am delighted with the victory, which I’d like to dedicate to BMW."

Taking the final podium position was local rider Gantulga Byambaa, who has the greatest number of wins in the past at this event. One of the other highlights of this year’s rally was the fight between BMW and KTM for the Best Team Award, and overall victor Yoshio Ikemachi paid tribute to his co-riders for playing their part in Team X-Challenge receiving this accolade. French rider Jean Brucy, who many will recognise from his exploits in the Paris-Dakar Rally, participated in the BTOU on a new G 650 Xchallenge that he only saw for the first time on arrival in Ulaanbaatar. The 44-year-old finished in 21st position on the first day because he ran out of petrol, but spent the rest of the rally catching up with the top riders and made a great contribution to the trio winning the team award.


The third member riding for Team X-Challenge was 41-year-old Hidehito Ikeda, who finished in second place in last year’s rally. The Japanese rider supported Jean Brucy and helped him get going again after he had run out of petrol, as well as supplying him with his own spare parts.

As well as Yoshio Ikemachi’s overall victory, Jean Brucy finished fifth overall and Hidehito Ikeda finished in seventh. In the closing ceremony, Director of BMW Motorrad Herbert Diess congratulated Yoshio Ikemachi on a hard-fought performance and well-deserved victory on the G 650 Xchallenge at the BTOU 2007.

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