Defending champ uses late pass to secure victory
Defending Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series champion Chris Borich and Balance Racing Yamaha rookie Walker Fowler went head to head at the inaugural Can-Am Mammoth GNCC in Park City, Ky. In the end, Borich used one of his patented late-race passes to secure his fourth win of the season.
Walker Fowler managed to seal the $250 Motosport.com Holeshot Award amongst a pretty chaotic Pro class start, and he and Ballance Racing teammate Taylor Kiser jumped out front early on, writing the beginning to a perfect story for the weekend. Bowers/Coastal National Guard/Yokley Racing’s Jarrod McClure put himself up front right away and contested the lead pack, along with Borich, who casually tucked into the top five right away. It’s always a tossup on who’s going to lead the race early on, because in GNCC Racing the strategy is all about picking it up at the end of the race, which seems to be a signature move of Borich this season, but there were several instances where he wanted to pass Fowler throughout the race, but couldn’t stick the move.
“I was thinking about where I wanted to set Walker up for the pass throughout the entire race and I knew it was going to be somewhere in that last field section,” says Borich of his final pass for the win. “Walker is riding really good this year, but sometimes he just has to slow down to go faster. I had a good time riding with those guys today.”
Precision/Moto X Perts/ITP/Lonestar/RG Motorsports’ Adam McGill got himself up front right away and quickly moved into contention for the lead where he settled into a close third, but as he battled back and forth with Fowler and Borich coming through the finish line area for the two-lap card, McGill’s ATV completely shut off. His pit crew spent some time looking over the machine and determined that he wasn’t going to be able to finish the race.
“You know, this is a huge bummer for me this season. It sounds like we dropped a transmission today and it’s kind of like we can’t win for losing at this point,” McGill said of his season so far this year. McGill still holds a one-point lead over Kiser for the second place position in the overall point standings.
With McGill out of the race with mechanical troubles, Jarrod McClure inherited the fourth place spot, but was out of striking distance of the lead trio of Fowler, Borich, and Kiser, who had separated themselves from the rest of the pack. But as the laps wore on, the track became rougher and lapped riders came into play, which allowed Fowler and Borich to consistently put a lapped rider between themselves and Kiser, thus keeping him out of the lead battle by the end of the race. It was all down to Borich and Fowler once again, as the rookie and the veteran set each other up for another epic finale.
Borich seemed to stalk Fowler on the penultimate lap, attempting a pass multiple times in the grass track section leading into the finish for the white flag lap, moves that would ultimately pay off on the final lap for Borich. Heading into the pits for the final time, Borich struck but the Yamaha rider quickly took the lead back from him. As the two came barreling into sight on the final lap it was Fowler who had the lead but Borich put his last minute move on the rookie once again in the final turns of the race and locked up his fourth win of the season, only one second ahead of Fowler’s valiant second place effort.
“Chris Borich is every bit as close to Superman as they come,” says Fowler. “For me to get the holeshot and lead every bit of that race besides the last 30 seconds is pretty cool, but second place isn’t where I want to be. I want to be where the guy on my left is [Borich] and that’s what we’re going to keep working towards.”
Kiser came through only six seconds later to claim the final spot on the podium in front of Ballance Racing’s hometown crowd. Kiser explained on the podium after the race that he was in contention for the lead with Fowler and Borich but after he hit a tree on the final lap, he wasn’t able to make up enough time to stick with the leading duo at the end.
DeRisi Racing-backed Bryan Cook grabbed his second consecutive fifth place finish this year in his first season as a part-time racer. Cook edged out Waynesburg Yamaha’s Jeff Pickens, who finished out the day in sixth place. BNR’s Kevin Yoho came in seventh, just ahead of GBC/Cernics/HMF/Yamaha’s Johnny Gallagher, who battled through a leg injury that had him on crutches just days before the race.
JG Offroad/FRE/American Honda’s Brian Wolf has been battling a hand infection for the last few rounds and things got pretty bad for the Ohio native when he couldn’t hang on any longer and was forced to pull off. Same story for the Motoworks/Can-Am ride of Chris Bithell, who battled chain issues on his machine all day long and was immediately thrown out of contention.
Waynesburg Yamaha’s Gabe Phillips is the first Pro Am racer to hold two wins under his belt so far this season, as he took home the XC2 Pro Am win. DeRisi Racing teammates Eric Hoyland and Braden Henthorn went at it all afternoon to grab the other two podium spots, but this time it was Hoyland’s experience that took over when he beat out the rookie for the runner-up spot. The tough Kentucky course got the best of a lot of riders and quite a few of the normal front-runners were shaken up a bit. Patrick McGuire ran into some issues early on but was able to salvage a fifth place for the day, just behind Greg’s ATV & Cycle’s Matt Hanna who took home the fourth spot.
Junior A (22+) winner David Reeves took home the Top Amateur Award aboard his DeRisi Racing Honda with a season-best 21st overall, beating out Junior A (22+) runner-up Fred Marley.
It was GT Thunder’s Dave Simmons who topped the AM overall once again, besting the entire field of some of the best amateur and 4X4 racers in the country, while also taking home yet another Super Senior (45+) win. Yamaha Racing’s Traci Cecco extended her points lead in the Women’s class with another class-win over Lexie Coulter and the two Women’s class competitors joined Simmons in the AM overall podium, honoring the fastest riders of the morning.
Can-Am X-Team’s Bryan Buckhannon bested the 4X4 division while also taking home a class win in 4X4 Open, beating out Team UXC’s Michael Swift in the class. Swift landed second on the overall 4X4 podium, followed by 4X4 Lites winner Kevin Trantham, who rounded out the overall 4X4 podium honors. Zakowski Motorsports/Can-Am rider Zac Zakowski came in a close fourth, while Clifton Beasley rounded out the top five in 4X4 action.
Ohio’s Cody Collier once again topped the 90 Open (12-15) class, as well as the overall Youth victory, over Tennessee’s Drew Landers and South Carolina’s Zachary Jones. The top three from the (12-15) division also made up the overall podium celebration. Defending Youth champion Hunter Hart was back in action at The Mammoth, but this time he wasn’t exactly in the lead. Hart is still recovering from a broken leg earlier in the season, but the young rider attempted to score some class points, finishing thirteenth in his class.
Round five of the 2012 Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series heads to Springville, Ind. May 12 and 13 for the Limestone 100 GNCC.
|2012 GNCC XC1 Standings||2012 GNCC XC2 Standings|
|1.||Chris Borich||Suzuki||141||1.||Eric Hoyland||Honda||115|
|2.||Adam McGill||Honda||92||2.||Patrick McGuire||Yamaha||107|
|3.||Taylor Kiser||Yamaha||91||3.||Braden Henthorn||Honda|
|4.||Walker Fowler||Yamaha||87||4.||Gabe Phillips||Yamaha||96|
|5.||Chris Bithell||Can-Am||80||5.||Matt Hanna||Yamaha||74|
|6.||Jarrod McClure||Honda||67||6.||Michael Lancaster||Honda||69|
|7.||Brian Wolf||Honda||66||7.||Joshua Merritt||Yamaha||60|
|8.||Johnny Gallagher||Yamaha||66||8.||Nathan Thomas||Honda||58|
|9.||Jeffrey Pickens||Yamaha||66||9.||Nathan Wallpe||Honda||51|
|10.||Kevin Yoho||Yamaha||62||10.||Blake Kramer||Yamaha||48|