Morgantown, W. Va. - Only one point separates AmPro Yamaha's Paul Whibley and Factory FMF/KTM's Kailub Russell in the chase for the 2012 Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series championship title. Round 9 of the series heads to Millfield, Ohio this weekend for the Wiseco John Penton GNCC and it's points leader Whibley who holds a slight edge after putting a last-minute pass on Russell to take the 2011 victory at Sunday Creek Raceway just one year ago.
However, there may be a new contender in the previous championship duel now that WMR/KTM's Rory Mead has secured his second win of the season, bumping him into third in the overall standings. Mead, a New Zealand native, came to the US last season with hopes of one day becoming a champion like his predecessor Whibley, and Mead is slowly inching his way into the championship battle this season.Another added twist comes from 2010 GNCC champ Josh Strang, as he will be competing in his first GNCC since a leg injury at the final round of 2011. Strang will wear his 2011 National number 3 at the John Penton aboard his FMF/RPM/KTM 450. Strang's KTM counterpart, Factory FMF/KTM's Charlie Mullins, will once again watch from the sidelines as he mends an injury himself. The defending champ plans to return for the final four rounds of racing after summer break.
Shenandoah Honda/Offroadchampion's Thad DuVall sits in a career-best fifth place in the standings as the West Virginia-boy heads to yet another home course in southern Ohio. DuVall grew up just over the border and has much experience at Sunday Creek Raceway.
KTM/Fly Racing/WPUSA/PG-backed Privateer Steward Baylor Jr. still holds the points lead in the XC2 Pro Lites division but KR4 Performance's Jason Thomas is closing up the gap on Baylor. Thomas grabbed his first win of the season last round and looks to chip away at Baylor's lead again this weekend. F.A.R Husky's Andrew DeLong has two wins this season and sits only two points behind Husaberg-backed Jesse Robinson for the third place spot. Robinson has yet to grab a win this season, but the North Carolina rider has put in a string of solid finishes to keep him inside the top three.Four-wheeled ATVs will compete throughout the day on Saturday, July 7, and dirt bikes will race on Sunday, July 8. Local riders are invited to race the event, as GNCC offers classes for riders of all skill and experience levels. The amateur racer entry fee is $40 and riders can sign up at the track.
Spectator passes run $15 for the full weekend, with pro pit access and pro autographs at no additional charge. On both Saturday and Sunday, youth riders race at 8 a.m., amateur riders race at 10 a.m., and the top amateurs and the pros race at 1 p.m. Special races this weekend include UTV racing at 4:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon, following the 1 p.m. ATV race.
To get to the track, take Route 13 North and continue for 10 miles to Jacksonville. Go right on Sixth St. for 2 miles, and then turn left. For more information, check out the official series website at www.GNCCRacing.com or call 304-284-0084.
About GNCC Racing:
The Can-Am Grand National Cross Country series is America's premier off-road racing series. Founded in 1975, 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 1,500 riders through tracks ranging in length from ten to 12 miles. With varied terrain, including hills, woods, mud, dirt, rocks and motocross sections, GNCC events are tests of both survival and speed and draw talent from all over the U.S., Europe, Australia and New Zealand. GNCC Racing is televised and airs every week on NBC Sports Network. For more information, please visit www.gnccracing.com.