MORGANTOWN, W.Va.—This weekend the 2020 Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Series presented by Specialized, an AMA National Championship, kicks off with the VP Racing Fuels Big Buck GNCC in Union, South Carolina. The world’s most elite off-road racers will take to the woods.
Earlier in the year FMF/KTM Factory Racing’s Kailub Russell announced that 2020 would be his final year contesting in the GNCC Series. This weekend begins that final bid, and his journey to contest for his eighth-consecutive National Championship.
After missing the last two rounds last year and winning four overall races during the 2019 season, Rockstar Energy/Factory Husqvarna Racing’s Thad Duvall is eager to get back to GNCC racing. Duvall is laser focused on battling for that number one plate at the end of the season, and that will start by earning a victory at the opener on Sunday.
FMF/KTM Factory Racing’s Benjamin Kelley comes into the 2020 season with two premier XC1 Open Pro class and overall wins already. Kelley made the move up to XC1 after clinching his second XC2 250 Pro National Championship at the tenth round. This season Kelley will be looking to keep his momentum rolling and battle at the front of the pack.
Debuting on a new team will be FactoryONE Sherco Steward Baylor Jr. Sunday afternoon. Baylor Jr. took home the season opener last season, and is looking to repeat that success this weekend aboard his new team. Joining him on the new team is his brother, Grant Baylor.
Unfortunately for Rockstar Energy/Factory Husqvarna Racing’s Trevor Bollinger, he will not be lining up this weekend for the season opener. News broke last week that Bollinger sustained a knee injury and will need surgery to repair the torn ACL and meniscus. Bollinger will be out indefinitely as he goes through the healing process.
Another rider joining a new team for the season is Coastal Bi-Con Racing’s Ricky Russell. Last year Russell missed the beginning of the season due to injury, but this year he is back healthy and ready to battle for an overall win in South Carolina.
Phoenix Honda Racing’s Andrew Delong comes into 2020 after finishing seventh overall last year. Delong will be aiming to put together another consistent year, but also look to improve his standings and battle for what could be first podium finish since the 2014 season
Another rider not lining up this weekend will be FMF/KTM Factory Racing’s Joshua Toth. It was announced at the end of January that Toth sustained a leg injury while practicing. After seeing a specialist Toth will not need surgery, and is expected to be able to get back on the bike in six weeks.
The Babbitt’s Online/Monster Energy Kawasaki duo of Josh Strang and Jordan Ashburn come into the season looking to improve their standings after finishing ninth and tenth overall in 2019. Strang and Ashburn are both looking forward to battling at the front of the XC1 pack, and contending for podium finishes.
In the XC2 250 Pro class Coastal Racing/Husqvarna’s Craig Delong will be looking to take over the top spot. Delong came back from an injury to work his way up to second in the class by the end of the season. Another rider looking to battle for the XC2 National Championship will be AmPro Yamaha’s Mike Witkowski. This year Witkowski has made the switch to Yamaha and will be aiming to battle up front to earn that XC2 250 Pro National Championship.
Trail Jesters Racing/KTM’s Jesse Ansley will be moving up to the XC2 class after earning his second FMF XC3 125cc Pro-Am National Championship. His teammate, Johnny Girroir, will be returning to the GNCC Series after having to take a step back last season due to health concerns. Ansley and Girroir will be a couple to keep an eye on throughout the season as they have both shown tremendous speed.
Practice will be held at the season opener. ATVs will practice on Friday, while bikes will practice on Saturday. See event schedule for times. The cost is $20, you will sign up to practice when you register to race. Unfortunately, due to space constraints Micros will not practice. Practice will not be on the actual racecourse; it will have a separate loop with a couple miles of trails.
Specialized will be hosting a ride with Ashley Hendershot, 2019 Women's eMTB National Champion on Friday and Saturday at 5 p.m. You will meet at the Specialized display in Sponsor Village. Demo bikes will be available on a first come first serve basis, and this is a ride for any skill level of rider. For more special event information check out the Big Buck event page by clicking HERE.
Four-wheeled ATVs will compete throughout the day on Saturday, March 9. Youth ATV racing begins at 8 a.m., followed by Micro ATVs at 9:15 a.m. and Micro bike racing at 10 a.m., then the amateurs, 4x4 pro and women at 11 a.m., and the pros and top amateurs' race at 2 p.m.
Spectator passes run $20 for adults and $10 for children (6-11), and kids five and under are free for the full weekend (Saturday through Sunday), with pro pit access and pro autographs at no additional charge. This event is co-sanctioned with our friends at the Southeastern Enduro and Trail Riders Association (SETRA).
Saturday's 2 p.m. pro ATV race as well as Sunday's 1 p.m. pro bike race will be broadcasted LIVE on the internet via Racer TV on www.racertv.com. Two highlight shows featuring the event will air on MAVTV later in the year.
For more information on the GNCC series, visit the official website at www.gnccracing.com or call (304) 284-0084. Join the conversation on the series Facebook page, follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and be sure to always hashtag #GNCC.