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Shane Watts Wins Can-Am GNCC Opener

Knight, Edmisten on podium, Caselli tops XC2 Lites class

2000 GNCC Champ Shane Watts grabbed an emotional win.
Matt Ware
Vero Beach, FL –The 2007 Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series is expected to offer some major surprises, but even the wildest predictions probably didn’t include what took place at the series-opening round in Florida. In a dominant performance, 2000 GNCC Champion Shane Watts claimed the win at the Parts Unlimited Triton GNCC, a signal that the much-maligned, oft-injured, but still popular Australian star may have regained the magic that made him a legend.

    “Bloody hell, that’s all I can say. That was awesome!” said Watts, now a full privateer on his Fun Mart/KTMHutt.com/Maxxis KTM 250XC. “I’ve been telling everyone, I buy my own bikes, I buy my own parts, just like all you guys out there. This victory is for you!”
    Watts controlled the race in rough, sandy conditions. Red Bull KTM’s newest GNCC factory rider, David Knight, made his full-time GNCC debut a good one, as he overcame the pain of a broken hand to finish in second. “It was hard work,” said Knight. “I just didn’t feel as bike fit as I should have been. Last week, I thought even top five was out of the question. I got a bad start, too, but once I got a clear run, as the race went on I got better.”
    The whooped out track pushed many riders to their limits, but Vero Beach’s own Garrett Edmisten probably felt the most comfortable of all, and he took his first career GNCC podium with third.
   

Even with a broken hand, David Knight was able to podium in the super-rough GNCC opener.
Matt Ware
“It feels great,” said Edmisten. “After last year turned bad toward the end, I decided this is what I want to do and I’m going to do what it takes. It’s my life, and it’s my dream. I don’t want to be cocky, but yeah, I thought I could get on the podium. I battled it out for a bit with Shane, and then I stalled it. No more than 10 minutes later I went over the bars. I battled with Knight, and he was all over me, but on the last lap I got a little tired and decided to just tough it out and take third.”
    FMF Suzuki’s Glenn Kearney grabbed the Racer X Holeshot Award, but he quickly faded back due to a fight with the flu. Before long Watts charged into the lead and opened it way up. Near the halfway point Edmisten put his sand skills to work and caught Watts, but then he crashed, allowing Watts to pull a lead that would never be headed. Meanwhile Knight was on a charged from the back, and he brought Am-Pro Yamaha’s Charlie Mullins with him. Mullins ended up fourth, saying his suspension set up was a hair off, as he anticipated heavier, more solid sand than the loose conditions in Vero Beach. FMF Suzuki’s Jimmy Jarrett was solid for fifth.
    In the new XC2 Pro Lites class, Red Bull KTM’s Kurt Caselli dominated all day, grabbing the Thumpertalk.com Holeshot Award and riding to an uncontested win. “I didn’t really know what to expect,” said Caselli. “These guys are so fast, and I haven’t had much time on a 250F. But I just rode it like my 450, and it just pulled me through the sand.”
    Caselli’s Red Bull KTM teammate Justin Williamson was second. “Everyone on the team is awesome,” said Williamson. “Kurt was flying out there, but he’s a top dog and it’s hard to run with him. I overcame knee surgery from a few months ago. I can’t even crouch down all the way, I can barely swing my leg over the bike. I think I’ll get stronger as the year goes on.”
    Third went to veteran GNCC pro Cole Calkins. “It feels good, it’s been a long couple of years,” said Calkins. “I think this is my last chance to make it. I want it bad.”
    The Can-Am GNCC Series continues this weekend with the Maxxis General GNCC at Aonia Pass MX in Washington, GA. For more information, check out www.gnccracing.com.

   
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, Motion Pro, Moose Utility Division, Powersport Grafx, Pro Clean, Race Tools, REM, Scott, Thor, Tire Balls, Twin Air, Weekend Warrior, and MotoTee’s. Media Sponsors include Racer X Illustrated, ATV Rider, ATV Sport, ATVRiders.com, Dirt Rider and ATV Insider. For more information log on to www.GNCCRacing.com.

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