Gotland Grand National evicted – Swedish Army call time on traditional GGN home
The 40th edition of the Gotland Grand National, the world’s largest enduro, looks set to be the last one staged on the iconic Tofta Shooting range after the Swedish Military call time on the land use.
As iconic off-road venues go, the Tofta Shooting range on the Island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea is up there. It is home to the self-proclaimed world's largest enduro competition, the Gotland Grand National, and the location once a year every year for the past 40 years, where thousands of enduro riders descend to race.
It is also home to the Swedish Army who use the epic location as the name suggests as a shooting range and training area. The trouble is they need it now more than ever and they say letting several thousand dirt bikes take over the place for a week each year has got to come to an end.
The global security situation is the reason and the Swedish Armed Forces’ growing activities means the organisers of GGN need to find new location for the future events.
The race narrowly avoided be affected this year but the persuasive team behind the event means they have one more edition on the Tofta range. “For a while, it looked dark even for this year’s competition,” says Conny Bohlin, CEO of the organizer Nordic Sport Event. “But through a constructive dialogue we found a solution that works for both parties. However, we must immediately begin the search for a new competition area.”
The 2023 GGN looks set to be one of the biggest and best yet with Steve Holcombe and Graham Jarvis both signed up to race the likes of Albin Elowsson and Mikael Persson.
The Gotland Grand National started in 1984 by FMCK and GMF Bysarna with the help of, among others, officers from the Gotland regiments on the island. Over time, the competition has grown into a giant in motorsport and is also one of the biggest reasons for visiting Gotland outside the summer season. As such that makes it hugely important to the island in terms of tourist income.
Officially the Swedish Fortifications Agency leases out the area yearly, but only after the Swedish Armed Forces approve the dates. The uncertain world situation means rapidly growing military activity on Gotland’s only location for their type of activity, so the Swedish Armed Forces are pulling the brakes to outside events.
Nordic Sport Event have had a meeting with the government of Gotland as well as representatives of the county board to highlight the need for a process. “GGN has survived complex challenges in the past, but this is a threat to the future of the competition. We appeal to the whole of Gotland – authorities, associations, and businesses – to help us save GGN on Gotland. We have high hopes, but it is very urgent!” Adds Bohlin who also says that finding a new area and having time to build a new infrastructure in 13 months is a big challenge.
“We know what GGN means to Gotland, but the Swedish Armed Forces’ mission is to build defence capabilities.”
For their part the Swedish armed forces say they are sorry for the situation but naturally are clear about the reasons behind GGN leaving Tofta: “Tofta shooting range is essential for the Armed Forces to carry out its mission to ensure peace and security in Sweden in an increasingly uncertain environment.” Says Tomas Ängshammar, head of communications at the Gotland regiment.
“We are significantly increasing military service training on Gotland. At the same time, we have employed soldiers, visiting mainland units, and probably an increasing number of visiting NATO units.
“GGN is close to our hearts, and we hope the organiser can quickly find a new area. We know what GGN means to Gotland, but the Swedish Armed Forces’ mission is to build defence capabilities.”
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