Chris Borich (center), Adam McGill (right) and Chris Bithell (left) all took podium finishes in the opening round of the 2012 GNCC ATV Championship at River Ranch.
Tradition is a key component in the Can-Am
Grand National Cross Country Series, America's premiere off-road ATV
and motorcycle racing series. This weekend's ATV season opener, the Moose Racing Westgate River Ranch GNCC in River Ranch, Fla., picked up almost exactly where it left off in 2011, as a handful of veterans diced away for the podium position, but this year's season opener added in a few new factors for 2012.
In true fashion, Maxxis/Yoshimura-backed Chris Borich (SUZ) put a final-lap pass on the remaining front-runners-Chris Bithell and Adam McGil-to take home the first win of the season in the rough, whooped-out Florida sand. Borich, three-time and defending ATV champion, settled into the third position immediately into the two-hour battle, but after tagging a tree with his front bumper, Borich was forced to pull into the pits for some additional tweaking.
"I hit the berm a little bit wrong and ended up tagging a tree," Borich said. "I bent my front bumper and I had to stop in to readjust the clutch perch, which cost me about 40 seconds and I was a little worried about losing the clutch before the race was over. Luckily everything held together and I was able to pull it off at the end there."
It was Bowers Motorcycle/Coastal/National Guard/Yokley Racing's Jarrod McClure (HON) that grabbed the $250 Motosport.com Holeshot Award, and he led the beginning part of the race until a mechanical failure kept the Ohio rider out for the remainder of the day. McClure took the GNCC Most Improved Rider honors in 2011 and looks to be a part of this season's intense XC1 podium-battles.
West Virginia's Adam McGill kicked this season off in a different manner than the rest of his competition, which all returned on familiar machines for the first round of racing. Formerly a part of the Factory Can-Am efforts, McGill (HON) is now supported by the Precision/Moto X
Jarrod McClure snagged the holeshot and early lead, but mechanical trouble eventually cost him the win.
Perts/ITP/Lonestar/RG Motorsports team and much to the surprise of many, looked comfortable and ready on his brand new Honda machine.
"I pretty much led all day but I lost my brakes on the second to last lap and that helped push me into second at that point," said McGill. "The new bike really impressed me; I'm just looking forward to getting it out to the Georgia clay and letting her eat!"
Motoworks/Can-Am's Chris Bithell put in a solid ride for the third place spot and even led Borich and the pack on the fourth lap for some time. Bithell wasn't able to put together a race-win in 2011, so the Pennsylvania native is pulling out all the stops to make something happen early on this season.
And then there was the rookie. Defending XC2 Pro Am champion, Walker Fowler, came into the opening round with a little weight on his shoulders and the Ballance Racing Yamaha
rider delivered all he could, just missing the podium in his pro class debut. Fowler ran into some steering issues when he hit a tree and was forced to pull into the pits to adjust the settings before getting back into the mix but got back going to finish a respectable fourth place in his first-ever XC1 GNCC effort.
GBC/Cernics/HMF/Yamaha's Johnny Gallagher put in a solid fifth-place ride behind Yamaha's Fowler, giving the veteran a good points foundation heading into round two in Georgia next weekend. Yamaha-mounted Jeff Pickens was running inside the top five as well, before experiencing mechanical issues that kept him from finishing the race.
With Fowler on the front line this season, the XC2 Pro Am class opened up as anyone's win in the Florida sand. Pennsylvania's Patrick McGuire shot out for the $100 Motosport.com Holeshot Award and didn't look back as he went on to take the first win of the season in the Pro Am division. Second position's Braden Henthorn debuted in the Pro Am class at the end of last season, but this year will mark his first full season in the class and title chase.
Team UXC Can-Am's Clifton Beasley topped the U2 class but it was Can-Am teammate ATV Parts Plus/Can-Am X-Team's Bryan Buckhannon who took the AM overall, in addition to winning the 4X4 Open class over Adam Hunt and Michael Swift.
Eight-time and defending Women's champ, Traci Cecco (YAM), had an intense battle with Greg's ATV & Cycle's Angel Atwell (HON) for the class win as well as top overall position. The 2009 champ, Atwell, edged out Cecco for the Women's class win and the two finished fourth and fifth overall, respectively.
Defending Youth champion, Hunter Hart (COB), began the 2012 season just as he left it, taking the 90 Open (12-15) class and Youth Overall over heavy hitters Cody Collier (APX) and Zachary Jones (APX).
Round two of the 2012 Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series heads to Washington, Ga., March 17 and 18 for The Maxxis General GNCC. For more information, go to www.gnccracing.com
$250 Motosport.com Holeshot Award: Jarrod McClure (Honda)
$100 Motosport.com Pro Am Holeshot Award: Patrick McGuire (Yamaha)
1. Chris Borich (Suzuki)
2. Adam McGill (Honda)
3. Chris Bithell (Can-Am)
4. Walker Fowler (Yamaha)
5. Johnny Gallagher (Yamaha)
6. Derek Swartfager (Honda)
7. Mark Notman (Yamaha)
8. Jeff Pickens (Yamaha)
9. Kevin Yoho (Yamaha)
10. Craig Bowman (Honda)
XC2 Pro Am Results:
River Ranch XC2 podium (from left to right): Braden Henthorn, Patrick McGuire and Eric Hoyland.
1. Patrick McGuire (Yamaha)
2. Braden Henthorn (Honda)
3. Eric Hoyland (Honda)
4. Nathan Thomas (Honda)
5. Matt Hanna (Yamaha)
6. Michael Lancaster (Honda)
7. Scottie Rich (Suzuki)
8. Cody Ellison (Honda)
9. Dallas Goins (Honda)
10. Josh Merritt (Yamaha)
2012 XC1 Standings:
1. Chris Borich, 30
2. Adam McGill, 25
3. Chris Bithell, 21
4. Walker Fowler, 18
5. Johnny Gallagher, 16
6. Derek Swartfager, 15
7. Mark Notman, 14
8. Jeff Pickens, 13
9. Kevin Yoho, 12
10. Craig Bowman, 11
2012 XC2 Pro Am Standings:
1. Patrick McGuire, 30
2. Braden Henthorn, 25
3. Eric Hoyland, 21
4. Nathan Thomas, 18
5. Matt Hanna, 16
6. Michael Lancaster, 15
7. Scottie Rich, 14
8. Cody Ellison, 13
9. Dallas Goins, 12
10. Josh Merritt, 11