Millfield, Ohio (May 9, 2008) –Red Bull KTM’s David Knight hopes to take his fourth-straight Can-Am Grand National Cross Country win this weekend at the Wiseco John Penton GNCC. Such a victory is critical to his KTM team, since the man who originally imported the KTM motorcycle into the United States, John Penton, will be there to watch.
John Penton originally imported the KTM motorcycle from Austria during his search for a true lightweight, rugged off-road bike. In the decades since, KTM has grown into a worldwide off-road power, with the brand winning the last three GNCC Titles. In his honor, the GNCC in Penton’s native Ohio is named after him, and this weekend’s race will feature a display of vintage Pentons courtesy of the Penton Owner’s Group. KTM will also host KTM Youth Day to honor the youngest riders on the tour.
However, the orange squad has been denied victory at The John Penton for the last few years. Am-Pro Yamaha’s Barry Hawk won a dramatic duel on the last lap with Juha Salminen in 2006, and Charlie Mullins took his first career GNCC win at the Penton last year.
Mullins now races for the FMF Suzuki team, a squad that pressures Knight each weekend. Four different Suzuki riders have visited the podium, including Mullins, surging young Australian Josh Strang, New Zealand’s Paul Whibley, and Ohio favorite Jimmy Jarrett. Jarrett’s lone career GNCC victory came at the Penton all the way back in 2001, but his fortunes have risen again over the last year. He could be the man to beat this weekend, especially if it rains.
Several riders hope Ohio will offer a breakthrough. Knight’s teammate Nathan Kanney has shown tremendous speed this year and took a podium finish in front of Knight in Georgia. Australian Glenn Kearney has rejuvenated himself with his new Husqvarna ride, and Jason Raines has looked stronger each week on his Am-Pro Yamaha. Kawasaki riders Garrett Edmisten and Jesse Robinson also need a podium to create some confidence.
In the XC2 Lites ranks, Am-Pro Yamaha’s Thad DuVall has matched Knight with four wins in five rounds this year. “I know I said consistency is the key this year, but I would have loved to have won that race in South Carolina so I could have a full streak going,” says DuVall.
That race win went to Monster Energy/Andrews Yamaha’s Dustin Gibson, and his teammate Josh Weisenfels has been close as well. Powersports GrafX KTM rookie Kailub Russell has shown winning speed this year, and he’s working on the stamina needed to hold it to the finish. The Monster Energy/Kawasaki team is on the mend, but Scott Watkins and Andrew Matusek are getting closer to the podium each weekend.
The race takes place at Sunday Creek Raceway, a motocross park in Southern Ohio just outside of Athens. A 12-mile course will test the best pro riders and over 1,000 amateur bike and ATV racers with hills, rocks, mud and motocross sections.
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: May 10 and 11, 2008
Where: The race takes place at Sunday Creek Raceway. From Athens: Take Rt. 33 W. 1 mile to 13N (Chauncey Exit). Go 3 miles into Chauncey. Turn right—staying on Route 13 North. Continue for 10 miles to Jacksonville. Go right on Sixth St. for 2 miles, then turn left.
Who: The Can-Am GNCC Series pits the best of the best in off-road racing against each other. More than 1,500 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.