That 12-point gap is merely the difference between first and fourth place at this weekend’s ITP Power Line Park in St. Clairsville, Ohio, so thus Sunday should witness a true showdown between the two, with several other contenders mixed in.
How concerned is Knight with this GNCC title? In an interview after winning the second round of the Maxxis EnduroCross Series last weekend in Oklahoma, Knight was asked what was running through his mind during the race. He answered with: “The GNCC next weekend! I am just trying to think of the GNCC points situation and pull meself out ahead a little bit next weekend.”
You can’t pick a better place for Hawk than this one, as the Pennsylvania rider—the 2003 GNCC Champion—won the race last year in front of a much-publicized duel between Knight and 11-Time World Enduro Champion Juha Salminen. Salminen has headed back home to Europe while Knight has taken his place in the U.S., but Hawk managed to top both of the Europeans in Ohio last year. Hawk also won the race in 2004, and finished on the podium in ’02 and ’03. The course—a custom built 12 mile track through the mud, hills, woods and fields of Eastern Ohio—certainly lends itself to Hawk’s style.
Last year Hawk had to battle his Am Pro Yamaha teammate Charlie Mullins and FMF Suzuki’s Australian threat Glenn Kearney for the win. Expect both to factor in this weekend. Mullins won the previous GNCC in North Carolina as well as the series’ previous stop in Ohio back in June. Assorted troubles have knocked him out of the championship hunt, but he would love to end his sophomore pro season with a win streak.
Kearney, meanwhile, started this 2007 campaign with tremendous speed, but an illness has left him rebuilding his program in the latter half of the year. His teammates Jimmy Jarrett and Josh Strang have shown flashes of brilliance this year, too, and both live and train in the Buckeye state.
At least Knight will be able to focus completely on the GNCC. Last time out he raced the opening round of the Maxxis EnduroCross Series in Denver, Colorado, and then flew across the country on Saturday night in order to race a three-hour GNCC in North Carolina. Knight struggled to eighth overall at the GNCC. Expect him to come out firing this weekend, and he has proven to be untouchable this year when he is on his game.
Alongside the Knight versus Hawk battle in the XC1 class, the new XC2 Lites division will crown its first champion this season. FMF Suzuki veteran Rodney Smith led the standings until a groin injury hampered his performance. Now Red Bull KTM’s 20-year-old Justin Williamson controls the points, with a huge pack of talented young riders battling it out with him. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/FAR Kawasaki’s Scott Watkins and Josh Weisenfels will go for the win, along with Am-Pro Yamaha’s Thad DuVall and Powersports GrafX/KTM’s Dustin Gibson and Kailub Russell. This Ohio race should prove critical as Williamson tries to lock down a championship.
Tickets for the event cost $12 for the full weekend, with ATVs racing throughout the day on Saturday and bikes on Sunday. Children five and under are free. To get to the track, Take exit 213 off Ohio I-70 to Route 331 N., roughly 15 miles from Wheeling, W.Va. For more information, log on to www.gnccracing.com.
Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series Standings
(After 11 of 13 rounds)
1. David Knight 222/5 wins
2. Barry Hawk, Jr 210/2 wins
3. Charlie Mullins 196/2 wins
4. Garrett Edmisten 174
5. Glenn Kearney 164
6. Jimmy Jarrett 163
7. Paul Whibley 149/1 win
8. Joshua Strang 124
9. Jesse Robinson 123
10. Justin Williamson 100
XC2 Pro Lites
1. Justin Williamson (192/2 wins)
2. Scotty Watkins (180/1 win)
3. Rodney Smith (178/3 wins)
4. Josh Weisenfels (168)
5. Dustin Gibson (154/1 win)
6. Thad DuVall (150/2 wins)
7. John Barber (122)
8. Brian Lawson (116)
9. Wallace Palmer (93)
10. John Bennett (87)
About GNCC Racing:
The Can-Am Grand National Cross Country series is America’s premier off-road racing series. The 13-round championship series is produced exclusively by Racer Productions and has run since 1973. 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. GNWith varied terrain including hills, woods, mud, dirt, rocks and motocross sections, GNCC events are tests of both survival and speed. CC Racing airs weekly television shows on the Versus network every Saturday at 3PM and Thursday at 4PM. 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, HiPer Technology, Laegers, Moose Utility Division, The National Guard, Powersport Grafx, 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.