Juha Battles Hawk and Mullins to Take Showtime! GNCC

May 9, 2006 12:01pm

Seymour, MO – Once again the challenge came to KTM’s Juha Salminen, but once again the 2005 Suzuki Grand National Cross Country Champion overcame it to keep his perfect season alive. Salminen won the first-ever Showtime! GNCC in Missouri, but thanks to an extremely gnarly track and stiff competition from the Am Pro Yamaha duo of Barry Hawk and Charlie Mullins, it wasn’t easy.

The competition is getting closer, but Juha Salminen keeps on winning at the GNCCs.
Photo by Jason Hooper
“Mud races are always tough, it is just a matter of keeping the balance right,” said Salminen. “It was hard because of the mud, but it was a fun race. Three hours is a long time in the mud.”
Mud, rocks and tight trails made the Showtime! One of the toughest GNCCs in years, and the rugged conditions served Hawk and Mullins well. One incredibly steep and rocky climb claimed Salminen on the first and last lap and allowed Mullins a shot at his first-ever GNCC win. But the 20-year-old rookie admitted he got nervous down the stretch, and he crashed and dropped to third.
 “Running out ahead of these guys is still pretty new to me and I tend to get a little nervous when I am out front, so I tend to make a lot of mistakes,” said Mullins. “But I think the more I times I get in the lead, the more comfortable I will get. Hopefully I will start making less mistakes and be able to win one of these things.”
Hawk was also in the hunt all day. He gambled by taking the long way around the hill on the last lap, but it didn’t pay off, holding him to second. “I caught up to Juha and Mullins for the last two laps and it seemed like I had a better pace than them when I was catching up, but when caught them, I tried to get around them but it never worked out,” said Hawk, who has two seconds in a row. “Mullins was actually leading on the last lap and fell and let Juha around, and I was right behind. I came to the hill on the last lap and Juha got stuck and Mullins went one way and seemed to get stuck, so I went the long way around, hoping they were taking each other out, but when I came around, I came out right behind them. I was pushing and about a quarter mile from the finish, I just slid out. I am not happy with second, but I am happy to be back up on the podium again.”
    Andrews Suzuki’s Jimmy Jarrett logged his best GNCC result in a long time with a solid fourth, with Parts Unlimited/Moose Honda’s Paul Whibley in fifth. Justin Williamson rode a smart race for sixth, with Dustin Gibson seventh to take top amateur honors. RER Motorcity Yamaha’s Nate Kanney was eighth, while Am Pro Yamaha’s teenaged-talent Thad DuVall put in the best ride of his career for eighth. Funmart KTM’s Shane Watts was tenth.
    Meanwhile, many of the top names in GNCC struggled on the rugged course. FMF Suzuki’s Glenn Kearney was second in points coming into the race, but drowned out on the first lap. AMA National Enduro Champion Mike Lafferty was third in points coming in, but he twisted his knee and dropped out. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Fred Andrews was putting in his best ride of the year until he bent his sprocket on a rock. FMF Suzuki’s five-time GNCC Champion Rodney Smith didn’t race due to a broken finger.
    Hawk and Mullins are now back into the top three in points after problems earlier in the year, but it’s the chase for a race win against Juha that provides the motivation.
    “I made a couple of mistakes during the race, but not the big ones that I think everyone else made,” said Salminen.
The race was taped for an airing on the Outdoor Life Network as part of the Racer TV Series. GNCC TV airs every Saturday and Wednesday at 3 p.m.
    The Suzuki GNCC Series continues in two weeks with the Wiseco John Penton GNCC in Millfield, Ohio. For more information, log on to GNCCRacing.com.   
    The AMA-sanctioned Suzuki 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 1800 riders through tracks ranging from eight to twelve miles in length. 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 Parts Unlimited, Moose, Maxxis, Pirelli, Wiseco, Klotz, FMF, ITP and Tire Balls, and riders compete for over $3 million in series prizes and contingency money. Associate sponsors include Moose Utility Division, Scott, Acerbis, Alpinestars, Cometic, Outerwears, Twin Air, Polisport Plastics, Thor, Motion Pro, Hyper Wheels, Elka Suspension, MotoTee’s, Weekend Warrior, Owens Motorsports, Tom’s Marina Polaris, EK Chain and Laeger’s. Media Sponsors include Dirt Rider Magazine, ATV Sport Magazine, www.ATVRiders.com and Racer X Illustrated. For more information log on to www.GNCCRacing.com.

Suzuki Grand National Cross Country Series - Round 6
Showtime! GNCC, May 7, 2006

Bike Top Twenty Overall

1. Juha Salminen    Finland, KTM 02:50:22
2. Barry Hawk, Jr    Smithfield, PA YAM    02:50:37
3. Charles Mullins    Hamilton, OH    YAM    02:51:16
4. Jimmy Jarrett    Beloit, OH    SUZ    02:55:26
5. Paul Whibley    New Zealand,     HON    02:56:52
6. Justin Williamson    Sanford, FL    YAM    02:57:23
7. Dustin Gibson    Cumberland France, TN KTM 02:58:38
8. Nathan Kanney    High Falls, NY YAM    02:59:19
9. Thaddeus Duvall    Williamstown, WV YAM 02:59:48
10. Shane Watts    Australia,     KTM    03:01:43
11. Scott Watkins    Leetonia, OH    KAW    03:03:49
12. Bryan Henson    Landrum, SC    KTM    03:07:05
13. Jesse Robinson    Connellys Spg, NC    KAW    03:10:37
14. D R Atwood    Millfield, OH    SUZ 03:11:02
15. Garrett Edmisten    Vero Beach, FL    KAW    03:14:45
16. Chris Gallt        Eagle, MI    KAW    02:48:24
17. Aaron Wegner    Traverse City, MI YAM    02:49:50
18. Robert Patterson    Columbia, TN    KAW    02:50:05
19. Brian Lawson    Adams, MA    YAM    02:50:26
20. Marty Michels    Petersburg, KY KTM 02:52:13

Suzuki GNCC Series Overall Points Standings (after 6 of 13 rounds)

1. Juha Salminen (180/6 wins)
2. Barry Hawk (97)
3. TIE Glenn Kearney (96)/Charles Mullins (96)
5. Mike Lafferty (90)
6. Fred Andrews (76)
7. Paul Whibley (75)
8. Shane Watts (63)
9. Jimmy Jarrett (59)
10. Garret Edmisten (55)