Dry conditions at the historically mud-ridden track in St. Clairsville made the start more important than ever for the 1375 riders racing throughout the weekend.
Mullins got out front early in the XC1 class with the Racer X Holeshot, and he looked to make an early breakaway, leading Knight and Jarrett through a rare muddy section on the first lap. Mullins and Knight took a chance through the mud on the first lap, but it didn’t work out well for Knight. “We got to the hole and everyone was pointing,” said Knight. “I just made a line out of it. I looked at it this morning and I thought it was good. I went in over the front wheel (and got stuck) and I was trying to lift it out. Scott Summers was there, so thanks to him. There’s a couple of big blokes there—I got it lifted it out and I just blasted the thing out.”
This left Mullins with a big lead. Hawk battled up from seventh on the first lap to pass FMF Suzuki’s Josh Strang, and Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/FAR/Kawasaki’s Jesse Robinson, then moved to pass FMF Suzuki’s Glenn Kearney. The dust started coming into play when Robinson’s machine let go, and Hawk knew his bike wasn’t going to make it to the finish either. “So I had to stop and get a new filter,” Hawk said. “We changed the filter and got back going. This bike wasn’t running 100 percent, but we held on to the end there. I guess third is okay. It could have a lot worse, but it could have been a lot better.”
“I said just settle for second and have a safe run, and that’s what I was doing,” he said.
The crowd cheered when Knight took the checkered flag, and he threw his arm up to celebrate, unsure as to where he had finished. “I saw the P-1 signals and thought that’s how far Charlie was in front, and it’s not until I got to the finish that I knew I had won. It’s one of those races where you really wanted to go a lot faster and you just couldn’t.”
With two laps to go, Mullins pulled off when his bike locked up, “and that was it,” he said. Many riders contemplated changing air filters on the last lap. Jarrett opted not to change his, after missing his pit crew’s signal. “I didn’t even know they were going to pit me until I went by, so I probably would have pulled in if they had waved me in earlier. I didn’t see them, so I was just going to try to get this thing to the end. Now I’m glad I didn’t stop,” he said. In contrast, his teammate Glenn Kearney lost a few spots changing a filter, and couldn’t get them back.
“I was in a good position at the beginning of the race,” Jarrett continued. “I got caught up on a stump and Glenn and Barry got by me, and I couldn’t see nothing. I thought man, ‘This is going to be a long day,’ but then the next thing you know I was in fourth, third and second, and then Barry caught me on the last lap. My bike was not running very well on the last lap, but I was able to get through the bad spots okay and hold him off to the end.”
Parts Unlimited/Moose Honda’s Paul Whibley was fourth ahead of FMF Suzuki’s Glenn Kearney.
Williamson had the lead by the first lap, ahead of the four-way battle between Weisenfels, Hollis, Watkins and Rodney Smith. “Kailub actually got the holeshot and was looking good—he crashed and I passed him—it was pretty clear sailing, but we caught up to XC1’s pretty quick, and we were back in the dust again,” Williamson said. “I think I went between two trees and they were a little tighter than I expected and I hit one of my bark busters and it shot me down over the hill. I about went off in this big giant ravine.”
Weisenfels found the lead, but it would be short lived. “Justin made a mistake and I got in the lead, then I messed that up pretty bad,” he said. “I knew I just needed to be calm and let people make mistakes, and that’s exactly what happened. I crashed twice and bent my shifter ridiculous—I just kept hitting neutral, but I figured out how to ride with it. It was dusty all day no matter what. I really want to win but I’m not too bummed—I have three podiums in a row. I didn’t really feel it today, but I just kept pushing. There was so much dust, I didn’t want to risk not being up here. It wasn’t terrible, I just wasn’t completely on today, but I’m sure it was hard for everybody and the two guys to the right of me rode great.”
Watkins made up time on Weisenfels and Williamson after he figured the line around the mud hole was a safer way to go. “I went the long way around it and I pulled a bunch of spots there,” he said. “I walked that part this morning and I knew it wasn’t worth it for me. I’m kind of the guy who will play it safe and make it to the end. You know, I’m not winning races back to back, but I am doing some decent podiums, and I’m happy to be doing that for the team. I’ve got one more chance to win at the last round, and I’m going to be going for it.”
Williamson secured the lead by the fourth lap, followed by Watkins and Weisenfels still within the minute. “Scotty put on a good charge there,” Williamson said. “He caught up to me and he got around me and led for a few laps. It seems like I kept my steady comfortable pace and caught right up to him, and passed him. The last two laps I rode just steady and fast and tried not to make too many mistakes.”
Williamson has a 12-point lead over FMF Suzuki’s Rodney Smith in the race for the first-ever XC2 Championship with one race left. Watkins is third, just two points behind Smith, and Weisenfels is fourth, seven points out of third.
The Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series wraps up in two weeks with the Klotz Ironman GNCC in Crawfordsville, Indiana on October 27 and 28, 2007.
Photos by Jason Hooper: firstname.lastname@example.org
Power Line Park
St. Clairsville, OH
October 14, 2007
1 David Knight Isle of Man, UK KTM 2:59:10
2 Jimmy Jarrett Beloit, OH SUZ 3:03:30
3 Barry Hawk, Jr Smithfield, PA YAM 3:03:31
4 Glenn Kearney Australia SUZ 3:03:37
5 Paul Whibley New Zealand, HON 3:05:57
6 Justin Williamson Sanford, FL KTM 3:06:01
7 Robbie Jenks New Straitsville, OH KTM 3:06:38
8 Scott Watkins Leetonia, OH KAW 3:07:01
9 Josh Weisenfels Fort Smith, AR KAW 3:07:32
10 Joshua Strang Australia, SUZ 3:07:57
Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series Standings
(After 11 of 13 rounds)
1. David Knight 252/6 wins
2. Barry Hawk, Jr 231/2 wins
3. Charlie Mullins 196/2 wins
4. Jimmy Jarrett 188
5. Garrett Edmisten 183
6. Glenn Kearney 182
7. Paul Whibley 165/1 win
8. Joshua Strang 135
9. Jesse Robinson 123
10. Justin Williamson 115
XC2 Pro Lites
1. Justin Williamson (201/3 wins)
2. Rodney Smith (189/3 wins)
3. Scotty Watkins (187/1 win)
4. Josh Weisenfels (180)
5. Dustin Gibson (163/1 win)
6. Thad DuVall (160/2 wins)
7. John Barber (127)
8. Brian Lawson (122)
9. Wallace Palmer (99)
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 began in 1973 and 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 the Versus network every Saturday at 3 PM and Thursday at 4 PM. 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, 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.