Even Mother Nature can't stop Chris Borich this year. The four-time defending Grand National Cross Couuntry Series champion fought off the mud, rain and his competitors at the Rocky Mountain ATV/MC Mammoth GNCC in Park City, Ky. for his fifth straight win to start the season.
Taylor Kiser made a valiant return to GNCC, taking home second overall, while Jeff Pickens secured his first-ever XC1 class podium.
Waynesburg Yamaha/GT Thunder's Pickens got off to a stellar start, grabbing the $250 Team Woodhead/DeRisi Racing XC1 Holeshot Award. However, HMF/GBC/Yamaha's Johnny Gallagher claimed the early lead as the deep field of XC1 riders headed into the muddy woods of Park Mammoth Resort. Maxxis-backed Chris Borich had trouble firing up his machine, taking off dead last from the start, but it didn't take long for him to catch the leaders on the opening lap.
By the end of Lap 1, Borich led a tightly knit pack of riders through the single track stretch of the woods, including Reliable Tool Supply/Maxxis-backed Chris Bithell, AmPro Yamaha's Walker Fowler, BNR's Kevin Yoho, Pickens and Lonestar Racing/Precision/ITP's Adam McGill. The lead group rode wheel-to-wheel throughout the first hour, as the opportunities for passing were slim in most sections of the racetrack.
Ballance Racing's Taylor Kiser made his return to GNCC after announcing his semi-retirement at the end of last season. Residing just a few miles away from the Park Mammoth Resort, Kiser put on an impressive ride in front of his hometown crowd of friends and family. Bouncing back from a ninth place start to the race, Kiser interjected himself into the lead battle between Borich, Fowler and Gallagher by mid-race.
However, by Lap 3 the course conditions became less than desirable as the rain continued to fall. Fowler began dropping off pace from the leaders before eventually stopping into his AmPro Yamaha pit nearly blind from all the mud caked in his eyes. After being tended to by the medics, it was determined that Fowler was not able to return to the race. After battling with Borich for the lead position, Gallagher ran into some vision issues of his own, ultimately losing his podium position when he wasn't able to see.
Meanwhile, Kiser made his way into the lead and began pulling a sizable gap on the duo of Borich and Gallagher. The lead was short-lived, though, as the front-runners collectively got stuck in a bottleneck that caused them all to lose time. Borich used this to his advantage as he regained the lead on the final lap and stretched the gap to nearly four minutes when Kiser got stuck in the mud less than a mile from the finish.
Borich went on to secure his 64th career win and takes yet another step closer to becoming the winningest GNCC Racer of all time. However, Borich wasn't the only one making history on Saturday as Pickens' third place overall served as his first-ever XC1 class podium finish.
Yoho put in a solid and consistent ride to take home a season-best fourth place in XC1 and fifth place overall. It was XC2 Pro Am winner Randy Hamilton who shook things up a bit, taking home a fourth place overall in addition to his first-ever XC2 class win. Waynesburg Yamaha's Gabe Phillips put in his best ride of the season with a sixth overall, edging out XC2 runner up Patrick McGuire in the overall.
Hamilton and McGuire battled it out for the XC2 lead all afternoon, pushing each other to the front of the overall pack. The Pro Am riders were threatening the overall win early on, but track conditions slowed them down immensely. Landon Wolfe finished a solid third in the XC2 division, allowing him to maintain third in the class standings. The current XC2 class leader, Bryce Neal, experienced some bad luck that gave him thirteenth place in the class and thirty-fourth overall for the day.
McGill finished eighth overall after struggling in the muddy conditions all afternoon. Newly acquired XC1 rider Matt Hanna grabbed ninth overall and College A rider Jay Shadron finished 10th overall. Shadron also claimed the Top Amateur award, beating out the next finishing amateur, Kevin McKeown, by 10 minutes.
The 2013 AMSOIL Grand National Cross Country Series continues May 18 and 19 with the Dunlop Limestone 100 GNCC in Springville, Ind.
|2012 GNCC XC1 Standings||2012 GNCC XC2 Standings|
|1.||Chris Borich||SUZ||150 (5 wins)||1.||Brycen Neal||HON||119 (3 wins)|
|2.||Chris Bithell||SUZ||93||2.||Patrick McGuire||YAM||113 (1 win)|
|3.||Walker Fowler||YAM||93||3.||Landon Wolfe||SUZ||98|
|4.||Adam McGill||HON||89||4.||Chad Jones||HON||81|
|5.||Kevin Yoho||YAM||75||5.||Randy Hamilton||HON||77 (1 win)|
|6.||Jeff Pickens||YAM||72||6.||Fred Marley||HON||70|
|7.||Jarrod McClure||CAN||70||7.||Blake Kramer||63||47|
|8.||Johnny Gallagher||YAM||67||8.||Joshua Merritt||YAM||60|
|9.||Braden Henthorn||HON||66||9.||Michael Lancaster||HON||58|
|10.||Gabe Phillips||YAM||59||10.||Nathan Wallpe||HON||54|