It took a little longer than expected, but Yamaha’s Bill Ballance finally picked up his first win of the year in the Can-Am Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Series on April 27.
Ballance, the eight-time defending GNCC champion, won one of the closest battles in recent memory to claim the Acerbis Loretta Lynn’s GNCC over Rockstar/Yoshimura/Suzuki’s Chris Borich and Team Excell Motorsports’ Bryan Cook in Hurricane Mills, Tenn.
“Right now it’s not even about the championship,” says Ballance. “I just need to start getting wins and then we can focus on the championship. It was a great battle today and I’m glad to come out on top of it.”
Incredibly, seven riders entered the final lap separated by just eight seconds. FRE KTM’s Adam McGill, who was riding a three-race winning streak, fought with Ballance on the last lap. The pair passed each other over and over while Borich began a steady charge from the back after getting stuck on a hill. Unfortunately, McGill ran into an electrical problem and his XC 450 quit on him. McGill’s KTM teammate Taylor Kiser, who was also among the leaders, ran into the same problem.
With the KTMs out of the picture, Ballance held onto the lead, but Borich managed to make one last charge. Borich got to Ballance’s rear wheels only to come up just short of making a pass.
Cook hung on for third, picking up this third podium of the season. National Guard’s William Yolkley crossed the finish line in fourth, ahead of ATVRiders.com’s Jarrod McClure, who finished a career-best fifth.
Yamaha's Brandon Sommers got out of the gate quickly and took the ITP Holeshot Award and ended up finishing sixth.
McGill was unable to get his machine refired and did not finish the final lap with the leaders. He was credited with 18th in the XC1 class and 103rd overall. Kiser, meanwhile, was able to nurse his machine home eighth in the class.
Despite the setback, McGill still holds the GNCC XCI points lead. The field, however, has closed the gap significantly. Cook now sits just 13 points behind McGill in second, followed by Ballance, Borich and Sommers.
In the XC2 Pro-Am division, Joshua Kirkland collected the Rekluse Holeshot Award, but GT Thunder Yamaha's Don Ockerman was able to get the early lead. Ockerman battled with Kyle Martin and Spencer Dickerson and held on to grab his fourth win of the season.
In the morning race, run under very muddy conditions, Tom Clark Motorsports’ Angel Atwell took the win and the ATVRiders.com Morning Race Overall Win Award. Lexie Coulter and Jennifer Albright took second and third overall, also racing in the Women’s class. Defending champion Traci Cecco struggled with front suspension issues, leaving the Women’s class championship battle as tight as ever.
Sam Williams topped the U2 class on a Kawasaki. Can-Am riders won the rest of the utility classes. Michael Swift won the 4x4 Limited class, Bryan Buckhannon continued his undefeated run in the Open 4x4 class, and Cliffton Beasley also remained undefeated in 4x4 Lites.
The Can-Am GNCC Series continues with the Wiseco John Penton GNCC in Millfield, Ohio on May 10 and 11.
Can-Am GNCC Round 5 Results:
McGill wins third straight in Can-Am GNCC