Chris Borich came out on top of a hard-fought battle with Chris Bithell and Adam McGill to top the XC1 division at this year's Can-Am Unadilla GNCC in New Berlin, New York. However, it was XC2 rider Walker Fowler who claimed the overall victory, edging Borich on adjusted time by just over six seconds at the end of the two-hour race.
After getting off to a mid-pack start Borich moved into the lead midway into the race, the Rockstar Makita Suzuki rider hooking up with GT Thunder-backed Brian Wolf at the front as the two riders pulled away from the rest of the pack. However, due to the relatively short length of the course, it wasn't long before the two front-runners ran into lappers, allowing Foremost Insurance/Warnert Racing Can-Am teammates Bithell and McGill to catch up. For the next few laps, the four front-runners took turns leading the race.
“It was a good battle once those guys caught up,” says Borich. “Me, Wolf, Bithell and McGill were like a train, battling back and forth for awhile.”
On the final lap, Borich passed McGill when the Can-Am rider took a different line, which moved Borich into second behind Bithell. With less than half a mile to go in the race, Borich made a bold pass on Bithell to take the lead, jumping one of Unadilla's huge motocross jumps.
“Bithell checked up and I knew I had to make a move so I thought, 'okay, this is it,' and I just hit it hammer-down,” says Borich.
At the finish, Borich took the checkers with about two seconds to spare over Bithell, with McGill finishing third another three seconds back.
While Borich battled for the XC1 win up front, Fowler cut loose from the rest of the XC2 pack - which started on row two - and concentrated on catching the XC1 riders. After hooking up with Ballance Racing Yamaha teammate Taylor Kiser at the halfway point of the race, Fowler was able to gain enough time to pull ahead of the XC1 riders on adjusted time and take the overall win.
“I really owe Taylor a whole lot for this win,” says Fowler. “I caught up with him with three laps to go. I led him a lap and then I pulled over and let him go and he set a really good pace and we picked up a lot of time. As soon as I tapped him he pulled over and started pushing me as hard as he could. I think the amount I won by... I owe that amount to Taylor.”
The Unadilla race marked the second time this year that Fowler has claimed the overall win, the first coming at the Rock Run in Pennsylvania. However, Borich was still pleased to have gained valuable points in the XC1 championship standings, and now leads McGill by a whopping 36 points in the XC1 title chase.
“It's good to get the class win, but in the overall, I didn't know Walker was that close [in overall time],” says Borich. “It's so hard to keep your pace not knowing where someone is at. I'm looking forward to Walker moving up and actually having to race us head-to-head.”
Fowler also claimed the win in the XC2 class, making his ninth win in a row in the division, and wrapping up the 2011 Can-Am Grand National Cross Series XC2 class championship with four rounds remaining on the schedule.
Wolf, on the other hand, ran up front for most of the race, however, an incident on a gnarly uphill left the Honda rider in fourth at the end of the day.
“I was pretty consistent in second all day and then we were coming up the hill before the white flag lap and I got stuck on the hill behind Bithell and that's when Borich and McGill got around me and I just couldn't reel 'em back in,” says Wolf.
Kiser finished fifth after coming back from a nasty crash (thank goodness for ATV helmets and other protective gear) in the first turn, finishing almost nine seconds behind Wolf.
Jarrod McClure put his Honda into sixth, ahead of FRE KTM's Bryan Cook. Meanwhile, GT Thunder Yamaha rider Kevin Yoho was eighth after claiming the $250 Motosport.com Holeshot Award at the start of the race.
Yamaha riders Jeffrey Pickens and Mark Notman rounded out the top 10.
Walker Fowler's win in the XC2 class was somewhat anticlimactic, so most of the focus was on the battle for second place, which boiled down to part-time GNCC competitor Nathan Thomas on a Honda and Greg's ATV & Cycle Yamaha rider's Patrick McGuire. Thomas capitalized on a good start and settled into second early in the race. Meanwhile, McGuire worked his way into third during the later stages of the race and was not able to catch the New York rider.
Thomas ended up with second overall, his first-ever podium finish in GNCC competition, while McGuire rounded out the podium.
Blake Kramer was the lone Suzuki rider in the XC2 top 10, with a fourth place finish, while Yamaha-mounted Eric Wilczek grabbed his best finish of the year with a fifth.
Yamaha rider Matt Hanna took the $100Motosport.com Holeshot Award to start the race and then rode to a sixth, with Honda riders Martin Christofferson, Michael Lancaster, and Nathan Wallpe finishing seventh, eighth and ninth. Meanwhile, Aarol Bright rounded out the top 10 on a KTM.
Braden Henthorn was the top finishing non-Pro rider, winning the College A (16-21) class on a Honda with a 15th overall finish.
In the A.M. race, Yamaha rider Dave Simmons won the $100 GT Thunder Amateur Overall and topped the Masters (50+) class as well, while Angel Atwell was the winner in the Women's division.
Bryan Buckhannon edged fellow Can-Am rider Michael Swift to win the 4x4 Open race. Meanwhile Clifton Beasley beat Scott Day and Danny Jessee to win the U2 class. All three riders were on Can-Am.
For the second time this year, Ohio rider Josh Simmons (PIT) claimed the overall win in the Youth race, also winning the 90 Open (12-15) class in the process. Blaine Martin was second overall and second in the 90 Open (12-15) class.
The 2011 Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series heads to Somerset, Pennsylvania for the Mountain Ridge GNCC on September 24-25.
|GNCC XC1 Standings||GNCC XC2 Standings|
|1.||Chris Borich||Suzuki||230 (6 wins)||1.||Walker Fowler||Yamaha||270 (9 wins)|
|2.||Adam McGill||Can-Am||194 (2 wins)||2.||Gabe Phillips||Yamaha||176|
|3.||Chris Bithell||Can-Am||184||3.||Patrick McGuire||Yamaha||147|
|4.||Taylor Kiser||Yamaha||177||4.||Eric Hoyland||Honda||137|
|5.||Brian Wolf||Honda||139 (1 win)||5.||Aarol Bright||KTM||133|
|6.||Bryan Cook||KTM||132||6.||Matt Hanna||Yamaha||117|
|7.||Jarrod McClure||Honda||126||7.||Blake Kramer||Suzuki||99|
|8.||Donald Ockerman||Honda||112||8.||Dustin Canipe||Honda||98|
|9.||Kevin Yoho||Yamaha||100||9.||Parker Jones||Honda||96|
|10.||Jeffrey Pickens||Yamaha||98||10.||Richie Brown||KTM||89|