In the morning ranks, several Can-Am racers finished on their class podium at Unadilla Valley Sports Center complex, including Bryan Buckhannon in the 4×4 Open class and Clifton Beasley in the U2 class. In fact, Beasley also secured the season championship aboard the Can-Am Renegade 800R X xc ATV by notching his ninth win in nine rounds of racing in 2011.
“I was pleased to see both Bithell and McGill reach the Pro class podium in New York. They both led the race at one time and had the speed to win, but unfortunately came up a little short on the rough, fast and short 7-mile course,” says Jimmie O’Dell, Race Manager, Can-Am. “I also have to congratulate Cliff Beasley on winning his 28th consecutive race, another U2 Class Championship and going 9-for-9 this year on his Renegade X xc.”
In Pro-class action, McGill started off slow as he was outside the top 10 at the beginning of the race. However, the West Virginia native battled hard and eventually took over the lead on lap four. He dropped back to second and then fell one more spot as a lapped rider slowed his pace on the seventh-and-final lap.
Bithell was in eighth place after lap one, but moved into fourth place by the second lap. He took the lead on lap six as he patiently waited for a lapped rider to move off the trail as other Pro racers chose to find an alternative route around the blocked trail. Bithell’s decision put him in the lead, which he held until the final jump on the motocross track when another rider passed him. Bithell recorded second overall in the class and third overall on the afternoon podium. McGill finished one spot behind in the Pro class, earning third place. McGill and Bithell are currently in second and third place, respectively, in the Pro class points race with four rounds remaining.
“It was pretty crazy. There were a lot of lead changes,” says Chris Bithell. “I would have liked to have taken the win, but I was happy to finish in second.”
The morning races were highlighted by Beasley’s win and championship, as well as Buckhannon’s 4×4 Open class victory. Beasley has now won 28 straight 4×4 class races after posting another U2 class overall win at Unadilla aboard his Team UXC Racing / Can-Am X-Team-sponsored Renegade X xc. The morning Utility podium was made up of Buckhannon, Swift and Beasley.
“I was leading [the] overall for a little bit in the first lap and I took another win in my class. I’m still just going to take it one race at a time and do the best I can and hopefully keep winning,” says Beasley.
Buckhannon, riding his Can-Am Outlander 800R X xc, outran Team UXC Racing / Can-Am X-Team racer Michael Swift as the two riders exchanged the lead close to 10 times during the morning session. Buckhannon’s fifth victory of 2011 pulled him to within three points of Swift for the class points lead.
“Michael [Swift] and I were really battling out there and we accidentally had a little contact this time, but we always try to keep it clean so we all go home safe at the end of the day,” says Buckhannon. “It felt good to take another win and I’m hoping to keep doing that for the rest of the season.”
Finishing third in the 4×4 open class aboard a Can-Am Outlander and riding for Zakowski Motorsports was Marko Jager of Prebold, Solvenia. Jager, the winner of the 2011 Red Bull Erzberg and other gruelling European endurance events, ended up 10th overall in the morning session in his U.S. racing debut.
In the 4×4 Lites class, Zakowski Motorsports / Can-Am X-Team racer Kevin Trantham, who led for the first five laps, encountered issues in the final lap and finished third in his class. He currently has eight victories and holds a 10-point lead over second place.
Lexie Coulter earned third place in the Women’s class and moved into a tie for fourth place after being unable to compete in the previous two rounds due to injury.
In the 4×4 Super Senior class, Forrest Whorton, Mike Penland (MPR / Can-Am X-Team) and David Jessee made up an all-Can-Am podium finishing 1-2-3, respectively.