Ballance Tops First-Ever Snowshoe GNCC
Borich rallies to second, Smiley third, Sommers wins again in XC2
It was one tough, gnarly race, but the fans liked it and so did Yamahas Bill Ballance, who grabbed momentum on the track and in the series to win the Moose Racing Snowshoe GNCC in West Virginia, round eight of the Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series. The massive ski resort at Snowshoe presented beautiful accommodations and a paved stretch of road for the start, but several miles of the course were made of almost impassible by mud, hills and rocks. Ballance moved around his rival Chris Borich early in one of those sections, and Borich ran out of time in his comeback bid, finishing second on his East Coast ATV Honda. Borichs teammate Matt Smiley took third.
There was probably three miles of the track out there that was just as gnarly as probably anything we ever see on any track throughout the whole season, said Ballance, the seven-time and defending GNCC Champion. At one time there was five or six of us together, I think Chris and Matt and Bithell, and we come into that one section and everybody started splitting off and going different directions, and I picked a line and thought, Oh Lord, this is way out of the way, Im getting ready to get passed by a bunch of people,â€™ and wound up getting on through it, and wound up being an easier but longer line and I didnt get hung up, and I think I got around those guys right there. I just put my head down and started pushing.
Borich received the $100 ITP Holeshot Award for leading the first lap after the unique GP start, but he wasnt happy with second. I was expecting a five lap race, and I dont know what happened there, but I came in, and the next lap the white flag was out and I was like, what the heck?, said Borich. Bottlenecks and mud were wreaking havoc on many racers, leading officials to cut the race from five laps to four to finish at the standard GNCC two-hour mark (Ballance finished in 1:57.48). I put my hammer down and came up just a little short I guess, but its going to drive me more here over the break and push real hard. Im not giving up, it aint gonna be that easy.
Borich dropped to the tail end of the top five but kept charging until he was closing on his teammate Smiley for second. It was a really fun track out there, said Smiley. Just a couple of real muddy sections that you really had to use your head and not get hung up behind anybody. If somebody got stuck in front of you, you were screwed, so I was hoping to just stay with them and pick them off in there, and just make dust in these last few sections, but hey, what are you going to do? I wanted to make a move at the end there, but I guess Bill pitted earlier and he got away a little bit.
Fourth overall went to LTs Chris Bithell and fifth to West Virginias own Adam McGill. Monster Energy/National Guard/Kawasakis William Yokley was sixth on a KXF450, with Chris Jenks seventh and Bryan Cook eighth.
The XC2 Pro Am class presented a big battle of its own, and GT Thunder Yamahas Brandon Sommers came from behind to notch his seventh win in eight races this year, as well as ninth overall. I don think I dropped any further back than about third or fourth all day, said Sommers. I just had to keep pushing, youd lose a lot of time when youd get hung up and just run hard and usually make more mistakes when you’re running hard, but it all worked out in the end.
David Crane took the ATV Riders Holeshot award for leading the first lap in XC2, and he followed Sommers through the pack after getting stuck on his own. I really thought somebody was in front of us, said Crane. Brandon as so fast, he caught me and I thought, well, maybe he’d pull me past whoever was in front of us, so I tried to follow him but he’s just too crazy. Im very happy to be up here.
Mark Notman got third, and he was happy with the GP style start. Its been rough all year, said Notman. I havent been able to get a good start. With this start we did today, I was able to get up front with the top guys and run with them, and stay up there all day.
The muddy conditions were most apparent in the wild 10 a.m. race, which made history when the top three overall riders were on 4x4 machines. Jerime Dudding won the overall riding in the 4x4 Lites class on a Can-Am Outlander 500. It was an unbelievable day, said Dudding. You know, it was a really neat course because it had some wide open that you could really stretch your legs on these Can-Ams, and then there was real tight and technicall, and then as the track developed it got so muddy. You would literally come to these bottlenecks and it would just be like a parking lot. 4WDs, sport quads, you name it, piled up in there. I literally at one point ran over another quad, whoever he is, Im sorry but I had to get passed him. It was an awesome race, thank the Lord for this one, it was unbelievable!
It feels great, said second place overall and 4x4 Open winner Bryan Buckannon, on a Can-Am 650. Everybody said they were waiting for the utilities to come up here and overall, and today here we got it, and I dont think anybody thought that theread be this line up thats up here, but were just showing that were here to race and run for everything we got.
Third overall in the morning went to another Can-Am racer, Limited Class winner Michael Swift. There were three spots back there that were pretty nasty, said Swift. Youd come and it just be a parking lot. Most of them were through creek beds, the trees were so thick you just got to hope you can mow ˜em over, so you gotta pick the littlest ones you can find and just mow ˜em, sometimes you have to back up and do it two or three times so the front end will finally fall over on them. You couldnt do it if you didnt have four-wheel drive. These bikes are so fast in the open stuff, you can pass a lot of the sport bikes. It was a good track.
Yamahas Traci Cecco saw her seven-race win streak snapped when she had a battery die on the last lap. Yamaha rider Lexie Coulter took her first career win in the Womens class and finished seventh in the morning race.
All told just under 1400 racers competed in the event.
The 2007 Can-Am GNCC begins a summer break before returning for the final five rounds in the fall, beginning with the Geico Mountain Ridge GNCC in Somerset , PA on September 1 and 2.
Start, Ballance and Borich photos by David Scearce, ski lift photo by Jason Hooper.
About GNCC Racing:
The AMA/ATVA-sanctioned Can-Am Grand National Cross Country series is America’s premier off-road racing series. The 13-round series is produced exclusively by Racer Productions. Cross-country racing is one of the most physically demanding sports in the world. The nearly three-hour long GNCC races lead as many as 1,800 riders through tracks ranging from eight to twelve miles in length. GNCC Racing airs weekly television shows on Versus (formerly Outdoor Life Network) every Saturday at 3 p.m. and Thursday at 4 p.m. beginning on April 14. With varied terrain including hills, woods, mud, dirt, rocks and motocross sections, GNCC events are tests of both survival and speed. GNCC featured sponsors include BRP Can-Am, Parts Unlimited, Moose, Maxxis, Pirelli, Wiseco, Acerbis, Elka, Geico, Klotz, FMF, ITP and Weekend Warrior, and riders compete for over $3 million in series prizes and contingency money. Associate sponsors include Alpinestars, Cometic, EK Chain, HiPer Technology, Laegers, Moose Utility Division, The National Guard, Powersport Grafx, Race Tools, REM, Scott, Thor, Tire Balls, Twin Air, and MotoTees. Media Sponsors include Racer X Illustrated, ATV Rider, ATV Sport, ATVRiders.com, Quadzone.com, Dirt Rider and ATV Insider. For more information log on to www.gnccracing.com.
Results: Weekend Warrior Spartan GNCC
June 9, 2007
1. Bill V Ballance Smith Grove , KY XC1 Pro YAM
2. Chris M Borich Sunbury, PA XC1 Pro HON
3. Matt J Smiley Kunkletown, PA XC1 Pro HON
4. Chris Bithell Irwin , PA XC1 Pro HON
5. Adam McGill West Union , WV XC1 Pro HON
6. William Yokley Tompkinsville , KY XC1 Pro KAW
7. Chris Jenks Washington , WV XC1 Pro HON
8. Bryan Cook Casar , NC XC1 Pro HON
9. Brandon Sommers Millersburg, OH XC2 Pro Am YAM
10. David Crane Golden, MS XC2 Pro Am HON
11. Santo Derisi Casar , NC XC1 Pro HON
12. Mark Notman Hubbard, OH XC2 Pro Am HON
13. Bryan Baker Knob Noster, MO XC1 Pro POL
14. Jarrod McClure Kaska , PA XC1 Pro HON
15. Kyle Martin Winona, MO XC2 Pro Am HON
16. Taylor Kiser Alva , FL XC1 Pro YAM
17. Todd Demaree Varsialles, IN XC1 Pro HON
18. Curtis Crump Hubbard, OH XC2 Pro Am YAM
19. Jeffry Maloney Hudson, NC XC2 Pro Am HON
20. Ryan Morphew Cookeville , TN XC1 Pro HON
2007 Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series Standings
(After 8 of 13 rounds)
Top Twenty Overall
1. Bill Ballance 216/4 wins
2. Chris Borich 210/4 wins
3. Chris Bithell 141
4. Taylor Kiser 121
5. Matt Smiley 117
6. Adam McGill 109
7. Chris Jenks 100
8. Brandon Sommers 97
9. Bryan Cook 95
10. William Yokley 88
11. Duane Johnson 57
12. Brandon Ballance 53
13. Ryan Lane 52
14. Craig Reed 47
15. Jarrod McClure 39
16. Brent Sturdivant 34
17. Andris Lagzdins 33
17. Michael Houston 33
19. David Crane 31
20. Santo DeRisi 21