New Berlin, NY – This weekend’s third-annual Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series stops at the famed Unadilla Valley Sports Center and may become the biggest GNCC ever. Certainly it will hold huge title implications for Red Bull KTM’s David Knight and Am-Pro Yamaha’s Barry Hawk. Just four points separate the two veteran off-road stars with four races remaining in the 2007 GNCC tour.
Similarly, the battle for the first-ever GNCC XC2 Lites crown tightened considerably at the previous GNCC race in Pennsylvania, as FMF Suzuki’s Rodney Smith DNFed with a leg injury, and title contenders Dustin Gibson (Powersports GrafX KTM) Justin Williamson (Red Bull KTM) and Scott Watkins (Monster Pro Circuit Kawasaki) collected podium finishes. Smith’s lead is now down to just three points.
Unadilla joined the GNCC tour in 2005 and drew 1,800 riders—a record turnout. Last year’s event matched those numbers, which puts 1,800 within sight again this year. A full slate of amateur classes is available with ATVs racing on Saturday and bikes on Sunday—and each race will use portions of the world famous Unadilla motocross track.
Hawk and Knight will square off in a three-hour fight on Sunday at 1 p.m. in the premier bike division, XC1 Pro. Knight, the 2005 and 2006 World Enduro Champion who has come to the U.S. this season in chase of its largest off-road title, showed dominant speed at the last two rounds of the series in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. But bad luck derailed his effort in PA, as mechanical troubles dropped him out of the points and allowed Hawk to win the race and close up in the series.
“I’ve been in this position before,” said Hawk, the 2003 GNCC Bike Champion and a seven-time GNCC Champ on ATVs. “I’ve just got to keep riding smart and really not change too much.”
Knight was so frustrated after his bike troubles two weeks ago that the 6’4” Isle of Man native pushed his bike through the final mile of the track, heading to the finish. “I never give up,” said Knight after pushing his KTM 450XC past the checkered flag. “I know my speed is good, I know I’m the best rider out there, I just can’t believe the stupid luck I’m having.”
Knight has never visited Unadilla Valley Sports Center, but he’s proven tough on any terrain. However, the New York course won’t feature the huge boulders that helped Knight build such big leads at the last two rounds.
Don’t forget the spoilers. FMF Suzuki’s Jimmy Jarrett is surging with three podiums in four rounds, and if it rains this weekend, he could be unstoppable. His teammates, Australians Josh Strang and Glenn Kearney, are hoping for drier conditions.
Kawasaki privateer Garrett Edmisten continues to amaze, notching his fourth podium of the season at the previous race in an amazing display of grit and determination. Also look for Parts Unlimited/Moose Honda’s Paul Whibley to be a podium contender; the New Zealander won the Maxxis General GNCC in Georgia earlier this year. And the ultimate wild card is Am-Pro Yamaha’s Jason Raines, who is on the comeback trail after two years of injuries.
In the XC2 class, Red Bull KTM’s Justin Williamson, 20, is hoping to continue with the momentum he gained by winning a National Hare Scramble race in New York last weekend. Even in driving rain and deep mud, Williamson proved the worth of his KTM 250XC-F, and the smaller bikes should be competitive at Unadilla as well. Smith, the five-time GNCC Champion, needs a solid finish to keep his younger competitors at bay in the series.
The Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series is the largest off-road racing series in the nation. The top pro racers make a lucrative living in the sport, reigning in six-figure salaries and endorsements, as well as a share of a $130,000 prize purse and over $3 million in contingency and bonus money. GNCC events also offer classes for amateur riders of all skill and experience levels. Four-wheeled ATVs will compete throughout the day on Saturday, September 14, and dirt bikes will race on Sunday, September 15. Riders can sign up at the track. The amateur racer entry fee is $40.
Spectator passes run $12 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., beginner riders race at 10 a.m., and the top amateurs and the pros race at 1 p.m.
For more information, check out the official series website at www.GNCCRacing.com or call 304-284-0084.
Directions: Located on State Highway #8, five miles north of New Berlin, New York. From the north take NYS Thruway (Rt. #90) to exit 31 (Utica). After the tollbooth, begin following signs for Route #8 SOUTH. Turn right after the tollbooth and make another right at the first light. You will go about 50 feet and exit to your right. Continue about 1-½ miles and you will exit again at Route #8 south/ Route 5/12. Approximately 4 miles later you will exit one more time at “Route #8 South-New Hartford”. Once you exit here, you will stay on this road right to the racetrack.
What: Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series, Round 10, Can-Am Unadilla GNCC in New Berlin, NY. The best four-wheeled ATV and off-road dirt bike riders in the world will compete, chasing national championship points as part of a 13-round tour. The event will draw riders from Australia, New Zealand and Europe, as well as all regions of the U.S., and the best local talent. Racers compete on a custom-built extreme off-road course featuring mud, rocks, hills and jumps.
Where: Unadilla Valley Sports Center. Located on State Highway #8, five miles north of New Berlin, New York.
When: Racing on Saturday, September 14, for four-wheeled ATVs. Youth riders age 6-15 race from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. Beginner adults race from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. Pros race from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Bikes race on Sunday, September 15, following the same schedule as the ATVs.
Tickets: $12 per person for a weekend pass, children five and under are free. Primitive camping is available on site for no extra charge. Pro pit access and autograph sessions are included in the admission charge.
More information: www.gnccracing.com or call Racer Productions at 304-284-0084.
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, BRP, 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.