With the promise of an extra $10,000 for an overall victory in the air, and a total of $50,000 on the line for overall podium finishers, racers in the Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series aim at a strong finish at this weekend’s MotorcycleUSA.com Snowshoe GNCC. However, the ultra-rugged mountain track complete with rocks, mud and massive climbs can end championship hopes in a hurry, too, and the top GNCC racers have to balance the desire to win the money with the goal of staying consistent for a championship. The event will pay a bonus of $10,000 to the overall winner of the bike and ATV races, $5000 for second overall finishers, and $3000 for third. ATVs race at West Virginia’s largest ski resort on Saturday, June 26th, and bikes race Sunday, June 27th.
Even with all the money on the line, the title contenders on two and four wheels will try to pretend Snowshoe is just another race-the course is double the distance of a normal GNCC and offers some of the roughest terrain in the nation to conquer. Getting stuck, crashing or breaking equipment could shake up the series.
“Haven’t thought much about the purse,” says current GNCC bike Champion Paul Whibley. “Snowshoe is pretty rocky and rutty. You need to get through it and try to be consistent. I’m aiming to get my Yamaha back up on the podium.”
The strategy worked for last year’s GNCC ATV Champion, Chris Borich, as well. He finished second at Snowshoe last year, while XC2 Pro-Am Class rider Brian Wolfe won the $10,000 prize in an all-time upset. “Nothing, just another race,” says Chris Borich. “Just want to focus on getting out front and making smart line choices. You make a mistake here and it can really cost you.”
The Snowshoe GNCC is the roughest race of the 13-stop series. Last year GNCC officials created a brand-new 20-mile course, featuring deep mud bogs, massive boulders and near-vertical hill climbs. In fact, a special 1000-foot climb
on a powerline road separates the riders from their pit areas on each lap. The race is the ultimate test for a cross-country racer and by the end of the race, whoever does win deserves the $10,000 prize.
But then that championship battle comes back into the picture. The bike fight is perhaps the closest in the history of the tour, as just a handful of points separates FMF Makita Suzuki‘s Josh Strang, and Obermeyer Am-Pro Yamaha’s Charlie Mullins. Factory KTM rookie Cory Buttrick sits third after winning the previous GNCC round in Ohio, and Defending GNCC Champ Whibley sits fourth on his Am-Pro Yamaha.
Mullins had won three-straight GNCCs before a disasterous run at the previous race in Ohio, where he derailed a chain and lost a ton of points. He’s been victim of similar bad luck at Snowshoe before. “Coming into this one, I’m doing the same old thing I have been doing all year,” says Mullins, hoping his bad luck doesn’t last. “I’ve lost some ground at Snowshoe before. I want to have a good ride and better my finishes there compared to years’ past.”
On ATVs, Taylor Kiser currently holds the number two spot in the series behind Borich and knows how tough this track can be. “It’s just another race, but it has more money,” says Kiser. “I’m pretty confident about my team and ability. The track is very unique and it definitely presents a challenge.”
With the championship still up for grabs, and a rough track on the horizon, riders will have to be careful with their strategy.
Ticket prices for the event are just $15 for the full race weekend, including ATV racing all day on Saturday and bike racing on Sunday. In all, up to 1500 riders are expected to compete. Children five and under are free, as is full access to the pro pits and pro rider autographs. Also, Snowshoe will keep its ski lift chairs operating all weekend to shuttle fans down to the more spectacular parts of the course.
Snowshoe Resort is West Virginia’s largest ski resort, and also offers mountain biking and golf in the summer months. The event offers riders a once-a-year opportunity to race around a resort, with hotels and restaurants all within site of the track. The event will even start right in the middle of the ski village. For more information on Snowshoe, visit www.snowshoemtn.com.
Overall Finish Bonus for Bike and ATV