Kawasaki’s Paul Whibley returned to the podium for the seventh time this season at The Snowshoe GNCC in West Virginia, extending his points lead to 13 with only four rounds left in the series. Whibley finished runner-up to Kawasaki rider David Knight, who made his first appearance in the GNCC series this year. Whibley’s teammate Jimmy Jarrett rounded out the top-five, while XC2 class rider Scott Watkins finished fourth in his class.
Whibley extended his points lead with a consistent ride on the 20 mile per-lap course through the mountain resort of Snowshoe. The track had a mixture of fast roads, tight technical rocks and root sections.
David Knight returned to GNCC competition on a Kawasaki KX450F to win the MotorcycleUSA.com Snowshoe XC1 purse.
“The track was pretty good,” said Whibley. “It wasn’t too tough, but a fair challenge. I didn’t feel comfortable out on the track, but I continued to try and put in the best times I could. I found myself in second on the last lap and wasn’t sure what had happened to Josh (Strang), but I was told he hit a deer. With my second place result, I was able to extend my lead and I’m pretty happy to be out front.”
The GNCC reigning champion Knight returned to competition on a Kawasaki at Round 9 of the GNCC series, winning big with the large purse and great Kawasaki contingency.
“It’s great to see a rider like David on a Kawasaki,” said Kawasaki Off-Road Team Supervisor Jason Smigel. “For a world class rider to purchase the KX450F says a lot about the bike and it’s our passion to support Kawasaki riders with our great contingency program.”
Jarrett got to the front pack early, but fell victim to one of the many mud holes on the course. He didn’t give up and finished out the day in fifth.
With the GNCC summer break officially here, the riders have over two months until the series picks back up at Unadilla in New Berlin, New York. Although it may seem like a great time to vacation, Whibley and his teammates will be hard at work with the EnduroCross and four OMA Nationals.
The Snowshoe GNCC, round nine of the Grand National Cross Country Series, looked like another win for Team FMF Suzuki Makita Off Road’s Josh Strang, but resulted in heartbreak for the former point’s leader.
Strang and his teammate Charlie Mullins, both made excellent starts which took place on a blacktop road with a live-engine start next to the Snowshoe ski village. The Suzuki teamsters hit the toughest track of the 2009 season in four and fifth respectively. The double loop course was more than 20 miles in its entirety and riders needed more than endurance to make it six laps. Strang moved to the front on lap two where the race broke down to a David Knight versus Josh Strang battle for the win. To most spectators, it looked as though Strang had it sewn up and would take his fifth win of the season. But on the fifth lap, disaster struck for Strang when he crashed into a deer in the woods portion of the course and got knocked out! He was able to remount after waking up and finished sixth. At the time of his close encounter with the deer, Strang was leading by more than four minutes over third place.
Charlie Mullins fought his way up to fourth after he also had some bad luck earlier in the event.
“Unfortunately luck, both good and bad, is a component in racing,” said Team Manager Mike Webb. “Today we didn’t have good luck. Josh did everything right, he was fast, patient and made good decisions, you just never factor in a deer on the course. We have to take the good which is the fact that he and Knighter were in another league compared to everyone else. Josh has also proven to be the best in the mud, the high speed dust and now the gnarly technical, the kid has no weakness. We will come back; this thing is far from over.”
Shock Doctor/KTM rider Nate Kanney earned his second podium of the year at the ninth round of the GNCC XC-1 Series.
The Snowshoe event is different from the other GNCC rounds as it has a grand prix style start. The riders line up five in a row on the asphalt and take off in 10 second intervals. Kanney and his teammate Kurt Caselli started on the second row. Kanney ran in the 5th place position throughout the majority of the race staying close to the 3rd and 4th place contenders. He moved to 4th on the last lap and shortly after into 3rd position when a rider ahead of him hit a deer on the course and fell back. Kanney went on to finish 3rd for the day – his second podium of the season. Caselli rode a steady race and finished 10th overall.
Shock Doctor/KTM teammates Cory Buttrick and Kailub Russell had an up and down day in the XC-2 Lites class. Buttrick crashed in the second corner while still on the asphalt section and had to fight his way forward. He eventually climbed back up to 2nd position but got stuck behind another rider in a sand section. His bike sank in and it took 17 minutes for him to recover his bike and return to the racing action. In an impressive ride he was able to close his gap and charge forward to finish 7th for the day. Russell’s luck was not much different than his teammate. He encountered a brake problem within in the first lap that he had to stop and repair. He returned and raced back up to 5th where he held his pace for the majority of the race. He found speed on the last lap and was able to excel forward and pass two more riders to finish on the podium. Russell has finished on the podium at every race this season.
Husaberg Factory rider Jesse Robinson earned 7th overall at the ninth round of the GNCC Series.
The unique Snowshoe GNCC start is similar to a grand prix start with riders lining up in rows of five and taking off in 10 second intervals. Robinson took off on the second row alongside KTM riders Nate Kanney and Kurt Caselli. Robinson held 8th place at the start of the first lap.
“I crashed twice on the first lap which sent me back to 12th place,” commented Robinson. From that point onward Robinson began to increase his pace and catch back up to the top ten riders. “I only had one other incident where I got stuck briefly in a mud hole losing a little bit of time. I was really happy with my FE570 throughout the day - I felt there was an advantage to having the bigger bike in certain sections of the course.”
Robinson eventually charged his way back up to 7th place where he finished for the day. “This was a very challenging course and I am very happy with my finish. I hope to continue to improve upon this result in the last few rounds.”