Muddy, rocky race falls to local for second-straight season
Deep Creek, MD – Once again Am Pro Yamaha’s Barry Hawk romped home King of the Mountain at the most prestigious Suzuki Grand National Cross Country event: the Parts Unlimited Wisp GNCC in Deep Creek, MD. He earned it the hard way, upending defending GNCC Champion Juha Salminen by coming from behind on a rugged, rocky track in a driving rain. And the fans couldn’t be happier.
Barry Hawk faced mud, rain and rocks, Juha Salminen and one big mountain before coming out on top at the Wisp.
“It’s awesome. Everybody out there was cheering,” said Hawk. “After my first lap I thought I was never going to catch those guys. I was way back and I thought it was going to be a long day. I think I was being too conservative. So I really started flooring it, and it seemed like I was a gear higher than everyone.”
Hawk, of nearby Smithfield, PA had to battle past Salminen, the Finnish ten-time World Champion who has dominated the 2006 season. The duo put on a great race, but Salminen came up short on the steep ski slopes of the Wisp. “It was four places better than last year, and that was my goal,” said Salminen. “It still was not my best, but it’s what we could do. Barry was just fast.”
A surprise podium went to 19-year-old Justin Williamson, who finished third. “At the beginning of this year I had to learn the determination and the dedication to run with these guys,” said Williamson. “It was raining out there and all I saw was sunshine. The rain and the rocks, it looks like that was a good combination for me.”
AMA Motocross legend John Dowd took a solid fourth in his first-ever GNCC race. Dowd ran as high as third before dropping his pace just a touch late in the race. “It was good. I put in a couple of good laps and a couple of bad ones,” said Dowd, always smiling. “I had fun though. I’m pretty sure I am going to come back and race the one at Unadilla. It’s still kind of mind boggling to ride for three hours. I did good for four laps, but the last two, it was tough after that.”
It was tough for everyone since the Wisp—already arguably the toughest track on the tour due to its huge rock section—was hit with rain for the first time ever at a GNCC. Mud and rocks and hills made this one of the all-time toughest.
“This track, I think my riding style works good in the rocks,” said Hawk.” I really look forward to it. Everyone I talked to couldn’t believe it was raining today, but maybe that was the difference. I still wanted it really bad today.”
Salminen battled with Racer X Holeshot award winner Charlie Mullins early. Mullins dropped back with brake problems, but Hawk put on a charge to catch and pass Salminen. The duo went back and forth until mistakes by Salminen on the fourth lap let Hawk get away. “It just seemed like I was running a gear taller than everyone else,” said Hawk. “So everyone moved over for me, except Juha. We passed each other back and forth a couple of times. It was good, and it was a tough race.”
“It was very tough,” said Salminen. “I was the first guy on the first lap. There was water everywhere. There were a lot of rocks but I couldn’t see them under the water. It was so difficult, there was just mud every where! It was hard. I lost my game on the fourth lap. I fell down a couple times. My glove was full of mud. That was my mistake. I should have stopped and changed my gloves. I lost everything in that lap.”
Hawk was able to open up as much as a minute lead, but Juha closed back in before Hawk pushed one more time to the finish. Williamson came from deep in the pack for third. “I was just inside the top ten,” said Williamson. “I started doing my thing, just trying to stay smooth and not make any mistakes. I came up on John Dowd on the second-to-last lap. I passed him in one of those fields and just tried to pull a lead.”
Fifth overall went to 16-year-old Am Pro Yamaha rider Thad DuVall, who won the 250 A class and took top amateur honors. Sixth went to Andrews’ Suzuki privateer Jimmy Jarrett, seventh to FMF Suzuki’s Glenn Kearney. Nate Kanney, Robbie Jenks and Paul Whibley rounded out the top ten.
The lush ski slopes and posh resort surroundings of the Wisp hosted a full weekend of GNCC activity, including golf on Friday, ATV racing on Saturday, and a full assortment of bike action on Sunday. All told, about 1250 riders braved the rugged terrain and non-stop rain to say they challenged the mountain.
The Parts Unlimited Wisp GNCC was taped for an airing on the Outdoor Life Network. Races air every Saturday and Wednesday at 3 pm EST.
The Suzuki GNCC Series begins an annual summer break. The series continues on September 9-10 with the Yadkin Valley Stomp GNCC in Yadkinville, NC. 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 9
Parts Unlimited Wisp GNCC
June 25, 2006
Bike Top Twenty Overall
1. Barry Hawk, Smithfield, PA YAM 03:00:11
2. Juha Salminen Finland KTM 03:02:14
3. Justin Williamson Sanford, FL YAM 03:03:39
4. John Dowd Ludlow, MA SUZ 03:06:27
5. Thaddeus Duvall Williamstown, WV YAM 03:06:44
6. Jimmy Jarrett Beloit, OH SUZ 03:07:13
7. Glenn Kearney Australia SUZ 03:07:22
8. Nathan Kanney High Falls, NY YAM 03:10:49
9. Robbie Jenks New Straitsville, OH KTM 03:10:57
10. Paul Whibley New Zealand HON 03:11:43
11. Garrett Edmisten Vero Beach, FL KAW 03:13:12
12. Charles Mullins Hamilton, OH YAM 03:17:21
13. Travis Green Vinton, OH KAW 03:17:45
14. Dustin Gibson Cmbrlnd Frnce, TN KTM 03:19:34
15. Gary Fridley Lost Creek, WV KTM 03:21:13
16. Jake Korn Brookline, NH GAS 03:23:19
17. Brian Lawson Adams, MA YAM 03:25:09
18. John Bennett Allison Park, PA YAM 03:26:47
19. Brett Zofchak Washington, PA KAW 03:27:03
20. Todd Morain Amherst, OH KTM 03:27:39
Suzuki GNCC Points Standings (After 9 of 13 rounds)
1. Juha Salminen (235/7 wins)
2. Barry Hawk (178/2 wins)
3. Charles Mullins (151)
4. Glenn Kearney (135)
5. Paul Whibley (118)
6. Jimmy Jarrett (107)
7. Fred Andrews (91)
8. Mike Lafferty (90)
9. Robbie Jenks (83)
10. Shane Watts (79)