So far the 2012 Can-Am Grand National Cross Country season has been all about the young guns when it comes to the motorcycle side of things. From Kailub Russell’s three-race win streak in the XC1 Pro class, to Steward Baylor’s undefeated XC2 record thus far, there’s no doubt that a new wave of GNCC Racers are emerging from the once Youth ranks of the GNCC circuit to the highest level of competition. So where do the veterans fit in?
For AmPro Yamaha’s Paul Whibley, his vast racing knowledge and experience has put him on top of the leader board after four rounds of racing, even though the New Zealand native hasn’t actually won the most races. Russell’s twelfth place finish in the opening round keeps him only two points behind Whibley’s overall lead, but this weekend’s Can-Am Mammoth GNCC presents the perfect opportunity to level the playing field as the Kentucky course is a brand-new stop on the tour, putting fresh trail and all-new terrain underneath the wheels of America’s fastest off-road motorcycle racers.
A fresh start may be just what defending champion Charlie Mullins needs to finally secure his first win of the year. Mullins currently sits third in the overall standings with a consistent string of podium finishes and a sixth place in his home state of North Carolina. The Factory FMF/KTM rider has made the switch between carburetor and fuel injected KTM 450’s but hasn’t yet been able to lock down a winning groove. Mullins is experiencing how much harder it is to defend a championship than it is to actually to win it, but with nine rounds remaining there’s plenty of time to get out front.
Shenandoah Honda/Offroad champion’s Thad DuVall and Factory FMF/KTM’’s Cory Buttrick currently hold the fourth and fifth XC1 positions respectively, not far from Mullins’ third place spot. Both of the young riders are posting consistent top finishes and it’s only a matter of time before they push their way into podium regulars this season.
Baylor is looking to continue his perfect XC2 season this weekend in Kentucky, although newly backed KR4 Performance/FMC/Keegan Wireless/KTM rider Jason Thomas is hungry for a win after recently parting ways with his former F.A.R Husqvarna team. Andrew DeLong is back after a two-race hiatus as he healed a broken collarbone, but DeLong has made strides since his return and appears to be back to where he was last season, taking home a second place finish last round on his F.A.R Husky. Jesse Robinson sits second in the point standings and looks to keep his RidePG.com backed Husaberg on the podium once again this weekend as well. Team Obermeyer Yamaha/Raines Riding University/OffRoad Viking.com riders Brad Bakken and Jedediah Haines round out the top five XC2 positions with very consistent finishes this season.
Spectator passes run $15 for the full weekend, with pro pit access and pro autographs at no additional charge. On Saturday, youth riders race at 8 a.m., amateur racers and Women riders race at 10 a.m., and the top amateurs and the pros race at 1 p.m. There will be a special 51cc motorcycle race held on a separate course Saturday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. for racers age 4-9. For more details on the 51cc race, please visit series website.
To get to Park Mammoth Resort, take I-65 to exit 48. Look for the signs to the Park Mammoth Resort. For more information, check out the official series website at www.GNCCRacing.com or call 304-284-0084.
About GNCC Racing:
The Can-Am Grand National Cross Country series is America’s premier off-road racing series. Founded in 1975, the 13-round championship is produced exclusively by Racer Productions. Cross-country racing is one of the most physically demanding sports in the world. The grueling three-hour GNCC races lead as many as 1,500 riders through tracks ranging in length from ten to 12 miles. With varied terrain, including hills, woods, mud, dirt, rocks and motocross sections, GNCC events are tests of both survival and speed and draw talent from all over the U.S., Europe, Australia and New Zealand. GNCC Racing is televised and airs every week on NBC Sports Network. For more information, please visit www.gnccracing.com.