The 2012 Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series hosts three all-new venues this season, including this weekend’s Round 6 stop in Springville, Ind. for the Limestone 100 GNCC. Rory Mead took his first-ever GNCC win at the inaugural Mammoth GNCC last round, and if that’s any indication of what a new course can bring, this weekend’s new event should put an even bigger twist on the already exciting race action.
AmPro Yamaha’s Paul Whibley still holds the top spot in the overall point standings, but three-time race winner Kailub Russell only trails Whibley by a mere five points heading into Round 6 this weekend. Nicknamed “The Axe Man” for a reason, Whibley is a hardnosed competitor and rarely strays from the top of his game when it comes to race competition. Although race-wins are an important factor, these riders are learning that consistency is key in the early stages of a championship title run.
Factory FMF/KTM’s Charlie Mullins is within striking distance of his teammate Russell, who sits just in front of the defending champ in second place. Mullins is still looking for a win this season and it’s hard to tell what could happen if he’s able to get into the winning groove that led him to his first-ever XC1 championship in 2011. New Zealand’s Rory Mead sits just behind Mullins after winning his first GNCC in Round 5. Mead has an extensive trails background, which gives him an edge when the series heads to more challenging and technical courses. There’s a good chance Mead will work his way into contention for a top spot this season.
This season’s field of XC1 competition seems to be deeper than ever and the proof lies in the extremely tight overall point margins. Shenandoah Honda/Offroadchampion’s Thad DuVall suffered from a wheel problem last round that kept him nearly last, but DuVall’s consistent top five finishes have kept him inside the top five overall. AmPro Yamaha’s Jordan Ashburn and FMF/KTM’s Cory Buttrick have been dicing with DuVall all season and the trio has made for exciting spectating along the way. Riders like Garrett Edmisten, Nate Kanney, Chris Bach and Jimmy Jarrett are always in the mix, too, and shouldn’t be counted out when it comes to a podium finish or even a win.
KTM/Fly Racing/WPUSA/PG-backed Privateer Steward Baylor Jr. still holds a commanding lead over the rest of the XC2 Pro Lites field with an undefeated line of finishes so far. Baylor will continue his quest for an overall win this weekend in Indiana, but current runner-up Jesse Robinson is gunning to do the same on his two-stroke Husaberg machine. F.A.R Husky’s Andrew DeLong put up a good fight against Robinson in round five as he secured second place. It seems like the competition level has stepped up a notch in general. Riders like Jason Thomas, Jedediah Haines and Brad Bakken have also been top XC2 contenders so far this year as well.
Spectator passes run $15 for the full weekend, with pro pit access and pro autographs at no additional charge. On Saturday, ATV youth riders race at 8 a.m., amateur racers and the top utility and Women riders race at 10 a.m., and the top amateurs and the pros race at 1 p.m. On Sunday, motorcycle 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.
To get to the track, take IN-37 to Old in-37, turn west and follow the signs to the Lawrence County Recreational Park. For more information, check out the official series website at www.GNCCRacing.com or call 304-284-0084.