David Knight’s gamble at taking a $20K purse for the MotorcycleUSA.com Snowshoe GNCC paid off with a dominating win for the wildcard rider on a Kawasaki KX450F.
How long does it take to build a bike capable of winning the hardest, most unique and exorbitantly lucrative GNCC race in America? Apparently only two days, because that’s exactly what David Knight did today at the MotorcycleUSA.com Snowshoe GNCC in West Virginia.
Knight showed up with a Kawasaki KX450F tuned by longtime friend and owner of Powersport Graphics, Bart Hayes. Tuning is something of a relative term in this case. After purchasing the bike himself and then rounding up parts to make it stand up to the Snowshoe course, Knight only had a few hours of seat time on the bike. Why would Knighter choose to ride a Kawi, well, because they were throwing up big money for a win with $10,000 in contingency. Combine that with the MotorcycleUSA.com bonus of another 10 grand, plus his regular winnings and the Manxman is walking off Snowshoe Mountain with $21,000 to help cover the expense of getting over here from Europe and paying for the bike.
Knight started from the fifth row while second-in-points Josh Strang led early from the front row. Knight recognized the opportunity and used other riders to help pull him through the pack early and catch the leaders before they could get away.
The start of XC1 Pro class had Paul Whibley (No. 2), Josh Strang (No. 3), Charles Mullins (No. 5), Jim Jarrett (No. 6), and Barry Hawk (No. 10) all fighting for position.
“I just got behind Brownie (Mike Brown) after a couple corners,” said Knight. “It was pretty good following him because he was going like a lunatic through all the dust and I could just see him and hope he wasn’t going to crash.”
After dispatching Am-Pro Yamaha’s Barry Hawk, Geico Kawasaki’s Paul Whibley and FMF Suzuki’s Strang, Knight was into the lead and looking to pull away. It wasn’t to be however, with consistent problems nagging him throughout the 3-hour race which led to a back-and-forth battle with Suzuki’s top rider.
“Every time I got by Josh I went the wrong way or something,” Knight explained. “I got stuck in a mud hole on the second lap and I must have lost like half a minute in there. On the last lap I went into this little gully and it turned into something like Last Man Standing. Josh was behind me and realized I was stuck in all these big rocks and I lost half a minute to him again.”
Hitting a deer put a halt to Josh Strang’s pursuit of Knight, and seriously endangers his title hopes.
Strang looked to have a bead on the Isle of Man resident through the midsection, tracking Knight without any hint of letting him out of sight. As the laps would down the RM-Z450 rider slipped to about 30 seconds behind before disaster struck. With roughly three minutes left until the checkered flag, Strang ran into a deer which put him down in a heap, knocking him hard enough to warrant an ambulance ride to the hospital after appearing incoherent at the finish. The unfortunate incident was devastating for his title hopes as he was able to shake his head clear enough to cross the line back in sixth position. Current points leader, Whibley, slid into second for a $5000 paycheck and Shock Doctor Muscle Milk KTM’s Nathan Kanney quietly worked into third and a $3000 bonus after a hard-fought outing.
Paul Whibley took over second place after Strang’s unfortunate accident. He continues to lead the overall title chase.
“It seemed like it was just one step forward and one step back all day,” said an exhausted Kanney. “Every time I got going I’d crash and I’d have to catch up again. I guess when you have a day like that then third is pretty good so I’m happy.”
“It was a good day for me, but a bit of bad luck for Josh,” added Whibley. “We’ve got to keep training and keep testing and getting things better and better and getting faster and faster so we can get these last four races.”
Whibley and the rest of the regulars are fortunate that Knight is not going to contest the rest of the season as he was almost five minutes ahead of second place. Instead he has a slew of races planned for the next few months while the entire GNCC lineup goes into the two-month summer break. They will return in September for the immensely popular Unadilla round.
In the XC2 division, Jason Thomas rode his Yamaha to the win and seventh overall. Jake Korn and Kailub Russell followed on the podium with their KTM equipment.
The XC1 MotocycleUSA.com Snowshoe Podium (left to right): Paul Whibley, David Knight, and Nathan Kanney.
1. David Knight, Kaw
2. Paul Whibley, Kaw
3. Nathan Kanney, KTM
4. Charles Mullins, Suz
5. Jim Jarrett, Kaw
6. Joshua Strang, Suz
7. Jesse Robinson, Husaberg
8. Kenneth Gilbert, Kaw
9. Charles Summey, KTM
10. Kurt Caselli, KTM
XC2 Pro Lites
1. Jason Thomas, Yam
2. Jake Korn, KTM
3. Kailub Russell, KTM
4. Scott Watkins, Kaw
5. Eric Bailey, KTM
6. David Snyder, Yam
7. Cory Buttrick, KTM
8. Mat Herrington, Kaw
9. Ryan Echols, Kaw
10. Patrick Massie, Kaw