In the 2009 Can-Am Grand National Cross County Series, the fight is on between GEICO/JG Racing Monster Energy Kawasaki
and FMF Makita Suzuki
. Kawasaki's Paul Whibley and Jimmy Jarrett and Suzuki's Josh Strang and Charlie Mullins are neck-and-neck in the points standings, with Whibley and Strang trading in and out of the lead after each round.
After losing the points lead in the last round at John Penton, Josh Strang will look to reclaim first from Paul Whibley with a strong race at the MotorcycleUSA.com Snowshoe GNCC in West Virginia this weekend.
Going into round nine, the MotorcycleUSA.com Snowshoe GNCC, not only are the riders competing amongst themselves, but also the challenging 20-mile double-loop course, double the size of their typical course and filled with the toughest terrain seen on the 13-stop series.
The track will plunge nearly 1000 feet in elevation on downhill trails, introduce them to a good flow of tight trails in the valley, and then climb back up 1000 feet on a rugged, steep, powerline road, very similar to sections used in the legendary Blackwater 100 off-road race, which served as the original GNCC.
Beside a new and infinitely challenging course, the riders also have a hefty purse to look forward to. The largest purse in GNCC history- $50,000--is being offered up by MotorcycleUSA.com.
With new terrain and a big purse, expect more than just the points leaders to be gunning for a win. Last year, Am-Pro Yamaha
's Thad Duvall took on 2007 and 2008 GNCC Champion David Knight and almost beat him at Snowshoe. This year, it looks like DuVall and the rest of the pack might have another chance, as rumors persist that Knight will make a last-minute appearance at Snowshoe, the first appearance this season of the defending GNCC Champion. Knight recently parted ways with his old BMW
team, and is now free to compete wherever he wants.
With the points race ever-tightening, Knight could disrupt the points standings. Currently, Whibley holds the lead with three points over Strang. Strang has seven points over teammate Mullins while Jarrett is 35 points behind Mullins.
Am-Pro Yamaha's Barry Hawk has also been surging recently. Hawk sits in fifth place in the points standings, at 25 points behind Jarrett.
Add Shock Doctor KTM
's Nathan Kanney and Kurt Casselli and Husqvarna's Glenn Kearney to the mix, and round nine of the series is sure to be an exciting one, as the riders take on the hardest course of the season.
Directions to the track:
Pittsburgh: I-79 South to Weston, WV, then East on US-33 to Elkins, South 48 miles on US-219 to Snowshoe
Nashville, Knoxville, Tri-Cities Areas: I-40 to Knoxville and I-81 North to I-77 North to I-64 East to White Sulphur Springs, then 92 North to WV-39 West to Marlinton, WV; then 26 miles on US-219 North to Snowshoe. (You may also leave I-64 at Lewisburg and travel Hwy 219 North to Snowshoe . . . shorter but very mountainous).
About GNCC Racing
The Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series is America's premier off-road racing series. Founded in 1973, 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 1,800 riders through tracks ranging in length from eight to 12 miles, competing for more than $3 million in prizes. With varied terrain, including hills, woods, mud, dirt, rocks and motocross sections, GNCC events are tests of both survival and speed. For more information, please visit www.gnccracing.com