FMF Makita Suzuki's Josh Strang placed second in the race and the two battled with former All-Japan National Motocross Champion Takeshi Koikeda for the win. Koikeda is the top JNCC competitor and challenged Red Bull KTM's Nate Kanney and Am-Pro FMF Yamaha's Thad DuVall last year for the win. This year, Koikeda settled for a third place finish.
"It was a great experience," Russell said. "The Cheese Nuts race facility was very interesting and had a lot of varied terrain you don't normally see at the American GNCC. I had a great time and really enjoyed the racing."
Russell quickly moved into the lead followed by Strang, and the two went head-to-head around the track. Strang was put out of contention for the lead when he broke his front brake line about an hour into the race. Strang pitted and was a good distance behind Russell when he re-entered the track. Recent AMA Hall of Famer inductee and Am-Pro FMF Yamaha team manager Randy Hawkins also competed in his 9th JNCC, working his way into 4th place behind Koikeda.
Russell and Strang were the only riders on the lead lap when Russell's chain got wedged in his counter shaft sprocket, putting him out of the race for about 5 minutes. Russell was able to keep his lead and finish in first by about 3 minutes. Russell took home 100,000 Yen for his accomplishment (translation: about $1,000 US).
"I'd love to travel back to Japan," Russell said. "The race facility was a lot of fun with a lot of interesting terrain. Hopefully one day, I'll be back again."
Russell and Strang were invited by JNCC President Masami Hoshino, as a continuance of the tradition of bringing American GNCC racers over to compete in the JNCC finale. In an exchange, two Japanese racers will compete in the opening rounds of the 2010 GNCC Series in March.
Russell was joined on the trip by his father, GNCC Trail Boss, Jeff Russell, and his mechanic, Dave "Hollywood" Cripe. Strang's father, Vance Strang, accompanied his son. Also making the trek across the globe on behalf of GNCC was Racer TV producer Jason Hooper and GNCC photographer Krista Shaw.
"I really want to thank Masami and the entire JNCC racing family for inviting us," continued Russell. "They made us feel like rockstars, and I hope one day to return the favor."
The 2010 Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series kicks off on February 27th- March 2nd as part of Bike Week at the Westgate River Ranch Resort in River Ranch, Florida, ATV's racing on Sunday, February 28, and bikes racing on Tuesday, March 2.
For more information, check out the official series website at www.GNCCRacing.com or call 304-284-0084.
1. Kailub Russell
2. Josh Strang
3. Takeshi Koikeda
4. Randy Hawkins
5. Chitoshi Sawaki
6. Yusuke Kondo
7. Masami Ishii
8. Masashiro Kobayashi
9. Taichi Tanaka
10. Iwao Hakata
About GNCC Racing
The Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series is America's premier off-road racing series. Founded in 1979, the 13-round championship is produced exclusively by Racer Productions. Cross country racing is one of the most physically demanding sports in the world. The grueling three-hour GNCC races lead as many as 1,800 riders through tracks ranging in length from eight to 12 miles, competing for more than $3 million in prizes. With varied terrain, including hills, woods, mud, dirt, rocks and motocross sections, GNCC events are tests of both survival and speed. For more information, please visit www.gnccracing.com.