Snowshoe, W. Va. (June 24, 2012) – The Motosport.com Snowshoe GNCC proved to be the toughest stop yet on the 2012 Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series as racers endured almost 20-miles of the roughest terrain West Virginia has to offer. The XC1 points battle quickly heated up when New Zealand’s Rory Mead secured his second victory of the season, while Kailub Russell and Paul Whibley tightened the championship chase to just one point after eight rounds of racing.
WMR/KTM’s Rory Mead has a knack for technical terrain and the treacherous obstacles of Snowshoe Mountain offered Mead the opportunity to put his skills to the test. It was Factory FMF/KTM’s Kailub Russell who got out front early in Lap 1 but Mead eventually put his KTM 300-XC two-stroke machine out front and practically never looked back.
The battle for third place in the XC1 class came between AmPro Yamaha teammates Jordan Ashburn and Paul Whibley, but amidst the unique starting procedure, the front-runners were more diverse than usual. At the Snowshoe GNCC, racers line up in rows of five in accordance with their previous point standings and the official scores are based off adjusted lap times. As a result, XC2 Pro Lites racer Jason Thomas put his KR4 Performance-backed KTM into the physical battle with Whibley and Ashburn. Thomas ultimately bested Whibley by less than one-tenth of a second for third overall.
“I struggled during the beginning of the race and couldn’t really get a good rhythm going. Eventually I was able to start catching up and things started to get a little better. I realized sometimes the harder you try the worse it gets.”
Factory Husaberg’s Nick Fahringer put in seven consistent laps of racing, where he finished in a season-best fourth place in class behind Whibley. Fahringer battled with West Virginia-native Thad DuVall early on, until the Shenandoah Honda/Offroadchampion rider ran out of gas after the second lap. DuVall’s bad luck offered Canadian Enduro champion Bobby Prochnau the ability to put himself into position for a solid top five finish at America’s Toughest Race. Prochnau, currently racing for FMF/RPM KTM, made a guest appearance with the WMR/KTM team for Snowshoe GNCC and locked down a fifth place in XC1.
Russell charged toward Mead on the seventh and final lap of the three-hour race. At one point, Russell was nearly two-minutes behind Mead, but the runner-up charged back in the second half of the race to eventually bring himself within only six seconds of Mead’s victory.
“I put in the work during the week to prepare for this race and it really paid off today but Rory rode really well. We have 5 tracks that I really like coming up and hopefully I can get a few more wins.”
The Motosport.com Snowshoe GNCC marks Mead’s second victory of the season and now brings him into contention for the championship chase with five rounds of racing still left on the schedule.
“I’ve been looking forward to this race for a while now and I knew it was going to be a strong one for me,” Mead said. “It was definitely one of the toughest races I’ve done in America but I enjoy the technical stuff. I’m going to try to be consistent in the last five races and hope to maintain my third place in points, or better.“
Factory FMF/KTM’s Charlie Mullins continues his streak of bad luck this season as the defending champ was forced to sit out Round 8 with an elbow injury from a previous race. Mullins currently plans to fully recover by missing the next round in Ohio, and plans to return for the final three rounds of racing.
Ashburn finished the day in sixth place, followed by JNCC champion Takeshi Koikeda in seventh. Obermeyer Yamaha-backed Chris Bach took home eighth and JG Offroad/American Honda’s Nate Kanney and Florida’s Garrett Edmisten rounded out the top ten in the XC1 class.
With a stellar third place overall performance, KR4 Performance’s Jason Thomas also secured his first XC2 Pro Lites win, but not without heavy challenging by F.A.R. Husky’s Andrew DeLong. The two battled back and forth all afternoon but Thomas came out victorious after nearly three hours of racing. KTM support rider and XC2 points leader Steward Baylor bounced back from a previous injury to claim third in the class, just ahead of Husaberg/RidePG.com rider Jesse Robinson in fourth. Obermeyer Yamaha/Raines Riding University/Offroadviking.com’s Jed Haines rounded out the top five in XC2.
The battle for Top Amateur honors has been intense all season long and it was once again 250 A class winner Grant Baylor who claimed it this weekend with an impressive eleventh place overall.
Experience prevailed in the challenging conditions of the AM race with the top three overall finishers coming from the Masters and Super Senior classes. Vance Earl grabbed his second Masters class and overall win of the season, followed by former XC1 ATV Pro and multi-time ATV overall winner Ohio’s Rick Matteson in second and Maryland’s Randall Riggs in third overall. Factory FMF/KTM’s Maria Forsberg kept her perfect season rolling along with yet another Women's class win.
West Virginia’s Cody Pingley (HON) earned his first Youth overall win in his home state, as well as the Super Mini (14-15) class win. South Carolina’s Jonathan Johnson (KTM) came in second place in the (14-15) division, followed by New York’s Nicholas Johnson (KTM), who came in third overall and in class.
Round 9 of the 2012 Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series heads to Millfield, Ohio July 7 and 8 for the Wiseco John Penton GNCC. For more information, go to www.gnccracing.com.
XC1 Pro Results:
XC2 Pro Lites Results:
XC1 Pro Standings:
XC2 Pro Lites Standings:
About GNCC Racing:
The Can-Am Grand National Cross Country series is America's premier off-road racing series. Founded in 1975, the 13-round championship is produced exclusively by Racer Productions. Cross-country racing is one of the most physically demanding sports in the world. The grueling three-hour GNCC races lead as many as 1,500 riders through tracks ranging in length from ten to 12 miles. With varied terrain, including hills, woods, mud, dirt, rocks and motocross sections, GNCC events are tests of both survival and speed and draw talent from all over the U.S., Europe, Australia and New Zealand. GNCC Racing is televised and airs every week on NBC Sports Network. For more information, please visit www.gnccracing.com.