ITP Race Report: Steele Creek GNCC
At the rain-soaked, muddy and challenging FMF Steele Creek Grand National Cross Country race in Morganton, NC, Team ITP racers came away with four class victories and six total podium finishes. ITP-backed racers won the WXC (Women’s Premier), Junior B 22+, Super Senior 45+ and Masters 50+ classes.
“Despite the very trying conditions at Steele Creek, ITP racers earned four total class wins which says a lot about the heart of our racers and both the construction and versatility of our tires,” says Pat McGuire, Public Relations / Race Support. “To get both Dave Simmons and Angel Knox in the overall morning top 10 on sport quads was fabulous. They battled hard against the elements and deserved to win their classes.”
Riding with ITP Holeshot GNCC tires, Angel Knox grabbed the WXC (Women’s Premier) class holeshot and never looked back, winning the class at a soggy Steele Creek GNCC in North Carolina.
The 2014 Steel Creek GNCC proved to be more brutal than many expected, as rain soaked the course and made it a muddy, slick mess. Just finishing was the goal for many racers. While a victory or a podium finish was viewed as much more of a significant accomplishment. The course was so bad, with and lap times slower than expected, that the GNCC officials chose to cut one lap – from the normal four to three – out of the 10 am session in order to stay on time for the afternoon program.
Morning class victories went to Knox, Simmons and Kenny Rich Sr. Knox, a former Women’s class champion who is racing full-time for ITP in 2014, recorded her second victory in three races in the new WXC class. She won by almost three minutes and also tallied a top 10 finish overall during the 10 am segment. She’s currently second in the class points standings. Fellow ITP and WXC racer Kristen Deloach sits fifth in the class points race after taking eighth in North Carolina.
After posting his third straight Masters (50+) class victory with a win at Steele Creek, Kenny Rich Sr. now has six consecutive wins in races he’s entered, dating back to last year.
Simmons, the reigning Super Senior (45+) class champion, won his class by more than 20 minutes and took eighth in the morning overall standings. The second-straight win pushed Simmons, who missed the opening round, to within 17 points of the class leader with 10 rounds remaining. Rich Sr., himself a 2013 GNCC champion, also did well in the muck, earning his third-consecutive Masters (50+) class win to start the year. Riding on ITP Holeshot GNCC tires, Rich Sr. took as season-best 12th place overall in the morning, despite the soupy conditions.
Dave Simmons earned a convincing win in the Super Senior (45+) class at GNCC round three racing with ITP Holeshot GNCC tires on beadlock wheels.
Justin Paul was the lone afternoon competitor to post a class victory, winning the Junior B (22 +) class with ITP tires. Paul, who missed the opener and took third at round two, earned his first class win since posting a “W” in the College B (16-21) class at round two of last year. XC2 Pro-Am racer Nathan Wallpe took eighth at Steele Creek and is currently 10th in the class points battle.
The final two GNCC racers to put their ITP-equipped quads on their respective podiums were Mark Batson (35+ C) and Kelley Deloach (Women’s Amateur 13+). In the afternoon, Batson rallied from sixth after lap one to take the runner-up spot at the checkers. With one win and three podiums in three rounds of morning racing, Deloach currently leads her class by three points heading into round four. ITP youth racer Jordan Digby finished 10th in the 125 Sr. (12-15) class.
The fourth round of the 2014 AMSOIL GNCC series, the VP Racing Fuels Big Buck GNCC, will be held April 12-13, in Union, S.C., and also host round two of the GNCC SxS Championship series.