Yamaha racer Bill Ballance ready to fight for ninth straight GNCC title
With the memory of his record-setting eighth straight Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Series title still fresh, Bill Ballance is ready to fight for No. 9.
“We’re pretty confident again this year,” Ballance told ATV.com. “We’ve been doing a lot of riding and I feel physically ready to go and ready for the season to get started.”
Ballance broke Barry Hawk’s record of seven straight titles aboard his Yamaha YFZ450 in 2007, winning six times and reaching the podium in every race. In fact, dating back to 2006, Ballance has been on the podium for 20 straight races.
Racing four wheelers since he was just seven, the now 31-year-old Ballance has 13 years of professional racing experience under his belt. The Smith’s Grove, Ky. Native has even designed his own track, Ballance Moto X in Oakland, Ky. He’s seen and experienced just about everything in the ATV industry and is thrilled with how the sport has grown in the last few years.
“It’s incredible how the sport is growing and the attention that we’re getting now in the media coverage and TV,” says Ballance. “We want to have five different factories out there supporting race teams this year in the Pro class. That’s just incredible from the way it’s been just five, six years ago.”
When he started racing professionally in 1994, major manufacturers such as Can-Am and Arctic Cat still hadn’t build their first ATVs. Now Can-Am is the title sponsor of the GNCC and a key competitor on the track.
“The market’s growing, the racing is getting bigger all the time,” says Ballance. “A lot more people are coming out. We’re having 1,700, 1,800 participants at a race and it’s just growing crazy right now. It’s good to be a part of it and good to be where I’m at right now.”
Where Ballace is at right now is the head of the pack as far as GNCC racing goes. As he prepares to defend his title, he’ll be doing it on basically the same quad used in 2007, but there are a couple of key changes, including the wheels.
“We’ve done the deal with Hyper Wheels and made that change,” says Ballance. “I’ve been running Douglas for a long time. I feel pretty comfortable in them. I like them a little bit better than what I had last year and I think that’s going to help us out some.”
Ballance has also worked with Ohlins on the suspension and says some changes have been made with the shocks.
“That’s really made a big improvement in the performance of the quad as far as handling,” says Ballance.
Seeing as he’s already got eight titles in the trophy case and a wife and two young daughters at home, some would think he may be getting ready to call it a career. Ballance, however, isn’t really thinking about that.
“I’m just taking it one year at a time right now,” says Ballance. “I’m still enjoying what I do. Still want to get out there and win and the desire to still get out there and go fast and compete is still inside, so I’ll just keep going with it.
“We’ll just have to expand the trophy case I guess.”