Salminen Goes from Last to First at Spartan GNCC on Michelin Tires

June 14, 2006 6:11am

SPARTA, Kentucky (June 12, 2006) ­ Finland's Juha Salminen (KTM-Michelin), who won the first six Grand National Cross Country series races of 2006 but had to settle for the runner-up spot in the seventh, returned to the top step of the podium at the Spartan GNCC on June 12. A poor start and a muddy course, however, provided Salminen with his toughest challenge thus far this year.

Ten-time world enduro champion Salminen found himself in dead last from the start and had to battle his way over the first two laps to reach Yamaha teammates Charlie Mullins and Barry Hawk, who were at the front of the pack. Riding on a Michelin S12 front tire and Starcross MS3 rear, Salminen led the final six laps, with Mullins and Hawk close behind.

At the finish, it was Salminen by just two seconds over Mullins, with Hawk a scant three seconds further back, making this the closest GNCC race of the year. New Zealander Paul Whilbley (Honda) was fourth, while Salminen's teammate Robbie Jenks (KTM-Michelin) came home in fifth, riding on Michelin S12 tires front and rear.

After seven victories in eight races, Salminen continues to dominate the GNCC standings with 235 points versus 148 for Hawk. Two more victories in the 13-race series will clinch Salminen's second consecutive championship. The series continues on June 25 at the Parts Unlimited Wisp GNCC in McHenry, Md.

The world's largest tire maker, Michelin ( designs, manufactures and sells tires for every type of vehicle, including airplanes, automobiles, bicycles, earthmovers, farm equipment, heavy-duty trucks, motorcycles and the space shuttle. The company also publishes travel guides, maps and atlases covering Europe, Asia, Africa and North America. Headquartered in Greenville, S.C., Michelin North America employs 23,330 and operates 20 plants in 16 locations.