Rockstar Makita Suzuki's Chris Borich took a huge step toward securing his first Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series Championship by mounting a late-race charge to win the Can-Am GNCC at the Unadilla Valley Sports Center in upstate New York.
On the last lap, Borich sprinted away from Yamaha teammates Brandon Sommers and Bill Ballance, giving him his seventh XC1 pro class win of the season.
"I really wanted to win today, I wasn't just coming here to score points," says Borich, the GNCC points leader. "I had a lot of friends and family out here cheering me on. We were battling hard and everyone was riding well, but the Suzuki worked awesome. We kind of lost our way doing some suspension testing last week, but we kept our heads down, figured it out, and everything worked awesome today."
Sommers led going into the last lap, but Borich made a move and then pulled away. Nine-time GNCC Champion Ballance put the pressure on for second, but Sommers, a second-year pro, held on to edge Ballance by a wheel length at the finish.
"I've been wanting to win one of these since I was racing in the C class," says Sommers. "I was in the lead, just going as fast as I could in the open stuff, and then trying to ride smart in the woods. I was pushing it, but Chris, he was riding really well and got away from me there. Bill, he's won nine championships and he's hard to hold off, but I managed to do it and get on the podium."
Ballance started the year slowly after recovering from surgery to remove cancer from his rib. He returned after the GNCC summer break stronger and vowed to win.
"I'm kind of disappointed in myself to be honest," says Balance. "The fire is still burning and I want it bad, I just couldn't make the right moves on the last lap with the lappers. Chris got a few of them between us and we couldn't make that time back up. Hat's off to Chris, he's been riding well."
Taylor Kiser took fourth on his Yamaha, with Adam McGill in fifth on his FRE KTM. McGill got into the lead on lap two when he elected to skip his pit, but he and Kiser both had to give positions back when they pitted the next time around. The race was so close that just 15 seconds separated the top seven riders heading into the final lap.
In XC2 Pro-Am class racing, Yamaha's Brian Wolf followed his overall win at the previous race at Snowshoe with a come-from behind class win here. Kevin Yoho led most of the race, but Wolf tracked him down. Then FRE KTM's Josh Kirkland closed in after starting 17th, and the three battled to the finish. Kirkland took second and Yoho was third.
"It's no secret, I wasn't able to ride much during the summer, I had some other priorities, and I knew these other guys were working hard," says Wolf. "To pull this off, it feels as good as winning the whole thing at Snowshoe."
Walker Fowler won the College A class and took top amateur honors overall, enough to lock up his class championship for the season. He will race XC2 at the next round of the series.
In the GNCC morning race, FRE KTM's Angel Atwell took a huge step toward her first GNCC Women's Title by taking the class and overall win. Her niece Kristen Atwell took second on a Yamaha, with defending class champion Traci Cecco taking third in the class. Cecco led early but got a tree stuck between her exhaust pipe and frame, losing ground. The Atwells rode solid all day to take the top spots. Third place overall went Glen Pritchard, who topped the Super Senior 50+ class on his Suzuki.
Rick Cecco was the top Utility rider on the day, taking the U2 class win on his Warnert Racing Can-Am Renegade. The Open 4x4 class featured an amazing battle between Can-Am riders Scott Kilby and Bryan Buckhannon and Rath Racing Polaris rider Darryl Rath. Kilby came out on top on his Can-Am Outlander 800R.
"That was the best race I've been in since maybe 1999, when me, Mike Penland and Rich Travelina were going for the title at the last race," says Kilby. "I have the DPS power steering on now and it made a big difference."
Cliff Beasley topped the 4x4 Lites Class and Michael Swift won the 4x4 Limited, impressive since he hit his head on a tree on the opening lap and injured his neck.
The Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series continues in two weeks with the Moose Yadkin Valley Stomp in Yadkinville, NC.
|Unadilla GNCC Results||GNCC XC1 Standings|
|1.||Chris Borich||Suzuki||1.||Chris Borich||Suzuki||252 (7 wins)|
|2.||Brandon Sommers||Yamaha||2.||Taylor Kiser||Yamaha||199 (1 win)|
|3.||Bill Ballance||Yamaha||3.||Adam McGill||KTM||176|
|4.||Taylor Kiser||Yamaha||4.||Bill Ballance||Yamaha||175 (1 win)|
|5.||Adam McGill||KTM||5.||Brandon Sommers||Yamaha||172|
|6.||Don Ockerman||Yamaha||6.||Bryan Cook||Honda||162|
|7.||Bryan Cook||Honda||7.||Donald Ockerman||Yamaha||134|
|8.||Johnny Gallagher||Yamaha||T-8.||Jarrod McClure||Yamaha||122|
|9.||Jarrod McClure||Yamaha||T-8.||Duane Johnson||Honda||122|
|10.||Duane Johnson||Honda||10.||Johnny Gallagher||Yamaha||95|