The action intensified at Loretta Lynn's Ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tenn., as Rockstar Makita Suzuki's Chris Borich claimed an exciting come-from-behind victory to put a wrap on a thrilling season of ATV racing in the Can-Am GNCC Series.
Foremost Insurance/Warnert Racing Can-Am's Chris Bithell and Ballance Racing Yamaha's Taylor Kiser got out front right away as the two racers battled it out for the right to wear the number three plate and their first race-win this season. Kiser led a majority of the race until Bithell wrestled the lead away, only to have Kiser retaliate and take the lead back once again.
Meanwhile, Chris Borich and Adam McGill had a similar battle for the third place position, elevating the pace and eventually catching the Kiser/Bithell duo ahead. Kiser led heading into the last lap, while Borich, who had already wrapped the season championship, charged his way to the second place.
Kiser held a small gap as the last lap began and looked ready to win, but he threw the race away when he tagged a tree. McGill took advantage to slide from third to first and held the top spot heading into the famed Loretta Lynn's motocross track.
After two hours of intense back-and-forth action, McGill led with just a lap of the motocross track remaining. Borich waited until the very last second to make a thrilling race-winning pass, cutting under Foremost Insurance/Warnert Racing Can-Am's McGill to take the lead just before they entered the legendary "Ten Commandments" whoop section. After clinching the series championship at the Ironman GNCC last month - his third-straight XC1 title - the win was icing on the cake for Borich.
"It's good to finish out with a win," says Borich. "I had some lines picked out on the motocross track and I knew I could make a pass there, and I just saved it until I needed it. At the beginning of the race I was just pushing and I felt a little out of control, but in the middle of the race I got in the groove and was able to close in on those guys."
McGill held on to take a close second, after fending off a fierce pass attempt by Ballance Racing Yamaha's Taylor Kiser two corners before the checkered flag. It was an exciting end to an already epic battle.
"Heading into that last lap, I was in fourth behind Kiser, Chris Bithell, and Borich, and about three miles in I passed up behind Bithell and then Kiser tagged a tree and that gave me the lead," says McGill, who at that point looked like a sure bet to win the final race of the year. "We came onto the motocross track for the final time and Chris had a good line and that was all she wrote. Then a few turns later, Kiser and I came together just before the finish."
Kiser rounded out the podium, and looked quite impressive while leading the first half of the race. For sure, it was one of Kiser's best performances of the year, and it gives him some momentum heading into 2012.
"I just got up front and settled into a nice pace," says Kiser. "I had a really clean day but I gave it away there on the last lap. I had the lead and I hit a tree and they kind of pulled away from me."
Kiser's sponsor and mentor, nine-time GNCC champ Bill Ballance, won the $250 Motosport.com Holeshot Award to start the race, before finishing the race in 11th.
Bithell, another Foremost Insurance/Warnert Racing Can-Am rider, finished fourth, but also led at one point during the race.
Fifth went to Honda-mounted Jarrod McClure, with FRE KTM's Bryan Cook earning sixth.
GT Thunder rider Kevin Yoho topped JET Suspension Honda's Donnie Ockerman for seventh, while Honda riders Jeffrey Pickens and Craig Bowman rounded out the top 10.
Walker Fowler made history by becoming the first rider in GNCC history to have a perfect season in the XC2 division, the Ballance Racing Yamaha claiming 13 victories in 13 rounds.
Fowler took the lead early into the opening lap and turned in a spectacular ride, which carried him five minutes clear of second place by the end of the race. It’s these kinds of performances that have established Fowler as one of the superstars of the sport.
"I just tried to keep it out of my mind, it was kind of a big pressure situation," says Fowler. "I just rode my own race and tried to stay out of trouble."
Gabe Phillips edged Honda rider Eric Hoyland by one second to claim his fourth runner-up finish in a row. The Greg's ATV & Cycle Yamaha rider has been consistent all year, which has earned him second overall in the XC2 final standings. Meanwhile, Hoyland finished third on both the race and in the final standings.
Honda rider Parker Jones just missed the podium in fourth, beating out Greg's ATV & Cycle Yamaha rider's Patrick McGuire in the process.
Michael Lancaster was sixth on a Honda, with Joshua Merritt (Yam), Aarol Bright (KTM), Blake Kramer (Suz) and Tyler Bostock (Hon) rounding out the top 10.
Georgia KTM rider Richie Brown claimed the $100 Motosport.com Holeshot Award to start the XC2 race.
Indiana rider Chad Jones was the top finishing "non-Pro" rider, winning the College A (16-21) class with an impressive 16th overall finish.
In the A.M. race, Dave Simmons (Yam) won the $100 GT Thunder Amateur Overall for the ninth time this year, and topped the Masters (50+) class as well. Simmons finished about three minutes ahead of Women's class winner Angel Atwell (Hon), who also claimed second overall with the finish. Third overall and first in the 4x4 Open division went to Bryan Buckhannon.
In the meantime, Matt Batson (Yam) won the 35+ C division over Darrin Miles (Hon) and Chad Pettus (CAN).
In the Youth division, Hunter Hart (COB) was the overall winner, and also win the 90 Open (8-11) class. Cody Collier was second overall and first in the 90 Open (12-15) class. Third overall and second in the 90 Open (12-15) class was Josh Simmons.
In the Girls (8-15) class, Crystal Diebold (PIT) was first, Catlyn Bennett (Yam) was second, and Abzgail Aarol (Hon) was third.
|Final GNCC XC1 Standings||Final GNCC XC2 Standings|
|1.||Chris Borich||Suzuki||336 (9 wins)||1.||Walker Fowler||Yamaha||390 (13 wins)|
|2.||Adam McGill||Can-Am||286 (2 wins)||2.||Gabe Phillips||Yamaha||276|
|3.||Taylor Kiser||Yamaha||259||3.||Eric Hoyland||Honda||226|
|4.||Chris Bithell||Can-Am||253||4.||Aarol Bright||KTM||197|
|5.||Brian Wolf||Honda||202 (2 wins)||5.||Patrick McGuire||Yamaha||188|
|6.||Jarrod McClure||Honda||186||6.||Matt Hanna||Yamaha||169|
|7.||Bryan Cook||KTM||182||7.||Michael Lancaster||Honda||144|
|8.||Donald Ockerman||Honda||179||8.||Blake Kramer||Honda||132|
|9.||Kevin Yoho||Yamaha||166||9.||Parker Jones||Honda||129|
|10.||Jeffrey Pickens||Yamaha||148||10.||Nathan Wallpe||Honda||123|