The last time Team Red Bull KTM's Nate Kanney raced his home-state GNCC in New Berlin, NY was 2006 and he took the win over off-road racing icon Juha Salminen. Nate headed to the storied Unadilla Valley Sports Center looking for another win in front of his hometown crowd. Rider's were met with cool conditions and a nearly perfect track as they did their track walk Sunday morning. Unfortunately, everything changed as the rain began pouring down 30 minutes before the start and showed no signs of slowing. While some riders may have been dreading the rain, Kanney, a notoriously good mud rider knew that it would play into his favor as the race progressed.
A top-five start positioned Nate well at the beginning of the race. A few quick passes and Kanney was into 2nd place on his KTM 300XC following Barry Hawk into the first woods section. "I knew that one of the biggest challenges of the day would be vision, and eating Barry's roost wasn't going to help with that at all. I began pushing him early trying to make a pass. Barry was feeling the pressure ended up crashing and I got stuck in a rut behind him which allowed Knight and a few other riders to get past us," said Kanney.
By the end of the first lap Kanney had moved back into 2nd place behind his teammate David Knight. As the riders went into the pits, Knight stopped for fresh goggles but Kanney, in a strategic move, decided to blow past the pits opting to take the lead rather than protect his eyes. "I'm not sure if it was the smartest move or not, but I really wanted to get into the lead and try and make a break from David." The 2007 GNCC Champion Knight is another rider that excels in gnarly conditions and Kanney knew that getting out front early could be his only way to victory. Unfortunately, Kanney's decision to go without goggles didn't workout as Knight ended up catching Nate and taking over the lead. "I knew it was a gamble to go without goggles, and I ended up paying the price, said Kanney, whose eyes turned a deep shade of red by the end of the race.
Knowing first-hand how bad things can go in a survival race such as this, Kanney settled into 2nd place and rode there for the majority of the race. WIth two laps to go Team Suzuki's Paul Whibley began pressuring Nate and eventually made a pass. "I began to run out of steam. I've been battling a cold since flying back from Greece for the ISDE and when Paul got by me, I just settled in for another 3rd place finish," said Kanney. Lady Luck was on Kanney's side, however, as Whibley ran out of fuel on the last lap handing a 2nd place finish to Nate. "I feel bad for Whibs as he rode a strong race, but I had my fair share of bad luck with a DNF at the John Penton GNCC [another very muddy race] and am just glad to get a bit of good luck and grab this second place finish in front of all my family and friends."
Photos: Jason Hooper @ www.digitaloffroad.com
1. David Knight
2. Nate Kanney
3. Jimmy Jarrett
4. Josh Strang
5. Charlie Mullins
St. Clairsville, OH
ITP Powerline Park GNCC
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