Can-Am X-Team Outlander 800R X xc racer Bryan Buckhannon won the 4×4 Open class at the Can-Am GNCC finale in Tennessee, to earn back-to-back class championships. Warnert Racing / Can-Am DS 450 XC1 pro class racer Adam McGill finished second at Loretta Lynn’s Dude Ranch to earn second overall for the season. Warnert Racing / Can-Am teammate Chris Bithell earned fourth at Loretta’s and fourth overall in the XC1 ranks aboard his DS 450.
“I was thrilled to see Buckhannon win his class here at Loretta’s and repeat as 4×4 Open class champion,” says Jimmie O’Dell, race manager, Can-Am. “McGill and Bithell rode extremely hard in Tennessee, like they have all season. They each led a portion of the race, but unfortunately couldn’t finish it out. Adam truly earned his second-place podium finish today and it was a good way for him to end the year.”
Going into the GNCC finals at Loretta Lynn’s, the 4×4 Open class championship came down to a battle between Buckhannon and fellow Can-Am X-Team racer Michael Swift. The class points lead belonged to Swift, but Buckhannon still had a shot at the title because he trailed by only two points. Unfortunately for Swift, a mechanical issue on lap two ended his day and his chance for a title. Buckhannon benefited from Swift’s absence and won his seventh race of the season and the 2011 class championship. The two racers actually ended up in a tie, but Buckhannon had the edge with one more victory. Can-Am X-Team racer Zac Zakowski (Zakowski Motorsports) posted his fourth 4×4 Open class podium in a row, finishing second to Buckhannon, to end the season in third place.
“I’m really excited to win the championship this year. It was done with a lot of help from family and friends and that really mean a lot to me. I have to thank Can-Am and all of my sponsors for all of their support,” says Buckhannon. “I will be back on Can-Am again next season and I will also be doing a little bit of side-by-side racing as well.”
In XC1 Pro class action, McGill was in the top five after one lap. Another lap around the revamped course and McGill had moved into the top three. He ran in the top three the rest of the way and even took the lead on the final lap. However, McGill’s lead would not hold as he was passed in the track’s challenging whoops section. He fought off another challenge from the third-place rider at the end of the race to hold on to the No. 2 spot. His fifth straight podium finish and two overall victories secured second place for the season.
“We were all really close in the last lap and I was able to get around and get into second. It felt good to end the season strong and on the podium,” says McGill. “I have to thank Can-Am and Warnert Racing for all of their hard work and everything they have done for me this season.”
Bithell also battled hard the entire race and was challenging for a top-three overall finish. He actually led on lap two of the race and looked to be a sure contender for the top step on the podium by mid-race. However, his pace was slowed by a lapped rider and he dropped a few spots. He ended the day in fourth place and also placed fourth in the XC1 class points.
In other Can-Am GNCC Racing action, 2011 U2 Class Champion Cliff Beasley took an early lead and won his class by more than six minutes. Kevin Trantham, who finished the morning session 11th overall on his Can-Am Outlander 500, ended his 4×4 Lites Championship season with his 10th victory in 13 races. Another GNCC 4×4 class champion to win the final race was Forrest Whorton, who won his 12th race of the year in the 4×4 Super Senior division. MPR / Can-Am X-Team racer Mike Penland finished second to Whorton.
Two other amateur racers won on Can-Am ATVs at Loretta’s. Leading the way was Joshua Trafelette of Tomah, Wis. His sixth victory in 2011 was good enough for the 4×4 Novice class title. Can-Am racer Kristin Power notched her first victory of the season and secured third place overall in the Women’s Novice (15+) class. Women’s class racer Lexie Coulter (Warnert Racing / Can-Am) briefly led her class before a mechanical issue relegated her to eventually finish seventh in Tennessee and fourth overall for the season on her DS 450.