“I’m pumped up and ready to go,” said Mullins during a training session this week. “We’ve been down riding and staying in North Carolina for the last three weeks. I think a lot of people were tired from Florida when we went to race in Georgia. Now everyone has a three-week break and everyone is fresh, so it should be a great race.”
A deep pack of talent may result in a third different winner this year. Am-Pro Yamaha veteran Barry Hawk, the 2003 GNCC Champion, won the Steele Creek race last year in a dramatic last-lap duel and expects the same this year. Knight’s teammate Nathan Kanney has enjoyed a strong return to the series after a year racing in Europe’s World Enduro Championship. New York’s Kanney finished a close second to Mullins in Georgia and led several laps in Florida, which makes him the only rider to lead laps in both races. Mullins’ FMF Suzuki teammates also look strong after great results in the first two races, with Ohio’s Jimmy Jarrett taking second and fifth, and New Zealand’s Paul Whibley taking fifth and fourth.
In addition, North Carolina’s own Jesse Robinson will look for his first career podium after scoring a pair of top tens in the first two rounds of the season. Robinson, aboard his Monster/Maxxis/MasterTech/HMF Kawasaki, knows the North Carolina trails better than anyone.
The Steele Creek GNCC will mark a return to more traditional GNCC terrain. The course runs up and down steep hills, with rocks, tree roots and some of the best dirt on the tour covering the ground. Water hazards exist as well, and fans can stand on top of the famous Steele Creek bridge and watch the riders dive into a deep water crossing below.
In the bike XC2 class, Am-Pro Yamaha’s Thad DuVall looks for his third-straight win. Monster Energy/Andrews Yamaha riders Dustin Gibson and Josh Weisenfels are close behind in points, though, along with Monster Energy/Kawasaki rookie Andrew Matusek. Red Bull KTM’s defending class champion, Justin Williamson, has struggled through the first two rounds and needs to bounce back.
Bike pros race on Sunday for three hours, beginning at 1 p.m. Sunday’s program also features Youth bike racing at 8 a.m. and beginning amateurs at 10 a.m. On Saturday, the top four-wheeled ATV pilots take to the track, including eight-time GNCC Champion Bill Ballance on his factory Yamaha. Rockstar/Yoshimura Suzuki’s Chris Borich and FRE KTM’s Adam McGill have won the opening two rounds of the series, and with Ballance experiencing some bad luck, the championship is wide open.
What: The Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series (GNCC), America's Largest Off Road Racing Series. 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 12 miles in length. With varied terrain including hills, woods, mud, dirt, rocks and motocross sections, GNCC events are tests of both survival and speed.
When: March 29-30, 2008
Where: FMF Steele Creek Grand National Cross Country race at Steele Creek Campground in Morganton, N.C. The campground is located on NC 181 just outside downtown Morganton.
Who: The Can-Am GNCC Series pits the best of the best in off-road racing against each other. More than 1,400 amateur racers are expected to compete on custom-built dirt bikes and four-wheeled ATVs. Top pro motorcycle riders include David Knight, Barry Hawk, Jr., Charles Mullins, Jimmy Jarrett and Shane Watts. ATV pro riders include Bill Ballance, Chris Borich, Chris Bithell, Matt Smiley and Adam McGill.
Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series Standings
XC1 Point Standings
1. David Knight (51/1 win)
2. Charlie Mullins (41/1 win)
2. Jim Jarrett (41)
4. Nathan Kanney (40)
5. Paul Whibley (34)
XC2 Lites Point Standings
1. Thad DuVall (60/2 wins)
2. Andrew Matusek (43)
3. Dustin Gibson (42)
4. Josh Weisenfels (41)
5. John Barber (31)
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. With varied terrain including hills, woods, mud, dirt, rocks and motocross sections, GNCC events are tests of both survival and speed. GNCC Racing will air weekly television shows on the Versus network starting August 2. GNCC featured sponsors include Can-Am, Parts Unlimited, Moose Racing, 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, Ogio, Rekluse, and MotoTee’s. For more information log on to www.gnccracing.com.
About Racer Productions:
A West Virginia-based motorcycle and ATV event production company, Racer Productions has been a leader in the off-road racing industry for more than 30 years. It’s repertoire of events includes the 13-round Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series, since 1973; The Kawasaki/Monster Energy High Point National in Mount Morris, Pa., since 1977; The ATV Dirt Days at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tenn., since 1985; The U.S. World Motocross Gran Prix at Steel City Raceway in Delmont, Pa. in 1987; The Monster Energy/Kawasaki Steel City National, since 1988; The ATV Stampede National Motocross at High Point Raceway, since 1994; The Wrangler ATV National Motocross at Oak Hill Raceway in Decatur, Texas, since 2006; The AMA Pro ATV Open at Steel City in 2007; as well as numerous other amateur motocross events. In addition, Racer Productions staffs the prestigious Air Nautiques/AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch, since 1982. For more information, please visit www.racerproductions.com.