Top five riders within 14 points
Hurricane Mills, TN – The hotly-contested 2007 Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series is looking for a break-out star, as four different winners emerged from the first four rounds of the series. The action leads to a close points race with just 14 points separating the top five in the series, with several potential new winners still waiting in the wings as well. If there’s a race for someone to break out, it should be this weekend at the oldest race on the tour, the Acerbis Loretta Lynn’s GNCC in Tennessee.
The sandy, whooped-out woods of Loretta’s will combine with some sections of the famous ranch motocross track to create a true test for off-road supremacy. It will mark the first visit ever to the ranch by Red Bull KTM’s David Knight, the World Enduro Champion from the Isle of Man who was expected to win several races this season. Although he did break through for his first GNCC win at the previous series round in South Carolina, the transition to racing in the U.S. has been harder for Knight than many expected. “It’s the same as it was before the last one,” says Knight. “I don’t know the tracks, so my plan is to try to follow the other guys and get smoother and smoother every lap. I just need to use my head and I think we can get this going.”
Mullins, 21, has been in the hunt for wins countless times over the last two seasons, yet has come up with seconds and thirds instead of firsts. Every weekend could be the one where Charlie figures it out. Same for FMF Suzuki’s Australian threat Glenn Kearney, who is as overdue for a win as any rider could possibly be. After illness harmed his endurance early in the season, GK is 100 percent for Loretta’s.
Of course there is a pair of wildcard winners from earlier in the season. Shane Watts has switched from KTM to Yamaha but is hoping for dryer conditions at Loretta Lynn’s so he can regain his podium form. And Parts Unlimited/Moose Honda rider Paul Whibley is getting his GNCC program closer in every race. He finished fourth in South Carolina and turned in one of the best lap times of the whole event on the last lap.
And of course through all of this, the GNCC points leader remains the ever-consistent privateer Garrett Edmisten. “Yeah but the guys are getting a lot closer now,” said Edmisten after a season-low seventh at the last round. But Loretta’s could work for Edmisten, as the sandy soil fits his Florida roots much better, and his fitness in the heat and humidity that usually plagues this race has been impressive all year.
The talented pack of XC2 Pro Lites riders will battle at Loretta’s as well. Veteran Rodney Smith is hanging onto the number-one spot in points, but he does not plan on contesting the who season, leaving the door open for a close group of young talent, including Monster/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Scott Watkins, Am-Pro Yamaha’s Thad DuVall and Red Bull KTM’s Justin Williamson.
It all adds up to another dramatic notch in one of the closest points races in the history of the series. The weekend begins with the chase for the GNCC ATV Championship on Saturday, as Yamaha’s Bill Ballance and Honda’s Chris Borich are currently tied for the series lead. ATV classes from Youth through Super Senior run Saturday as well, while bikes race on Sunday. Classes are available for nearly all levels and ages of riders on all sizes of machines.
Admission is $12 per person for the full weekend. To get to the track, from Nashville, take I-40 West to Exit 143, follow Route 13 North to the Ranch. For more information, log on to 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, Moose Utility Division, The National Guard, Powersport Grafx, Race Tools, REM, Scott, Thor, Tire Balls, Twin Air, and MotoTee’s. Media Sponsors include Racer X Illustrated, ATV Rider, ATV Sport, ATVRiders.com, Quadzone.com, Dirt Rider and ATV Insider. For more information log on to www.GNCCRacing.com.
2007 Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series Overall Standings
1. Garrett Edmisten (78); 2. Shane Watts (76/1 win); 3. David Knight (71/1 win); 4. Charles Mullins (68) 5. Barry Hawk (64/1 win); 6. Paul Whibley (61/ 1 win); 7. Glenn Kearney (56); 8. Jimmy Jarrett (Suz); 9. Jesse Robinson (41); 10. Robbie Jenks (38).
David Knight photo by David Scearce firstname.lastname@example.org