McGill Tops Field at Grueling Snowshoe GNCC
Adam McGill pocketed a cool $5,000 and moved within striking distance of the 2011 Can-Am Grand National Cross Series points lead by taking a spectacular win at the Motosport.com Snowshoe GNCC, round eight of the series at Snowshoe Mountain Resort in Snowshoe, WV.
With the win, his second of the year, McGill moved to within seven points of series points leader Chris Borich, who finished a disappointing 12th after mud clogged his radiator and caused the engine on his Rockstar Makita Suzuki to overheat.
McGill’s Foremost Insurance/Warnert Racing Can-Am teammate Chris Bithell finished second after leading much of the race, while FRE Racing KTM’s Bryan Cook claimed his first podium finish of the year with a third.
Billed as America’s Toughest Race, the Snowshoe GNCC is two hours of grueling mountain two-track set at 4,800 feet in elevation, and each year the event awards a generous overall purse, this year courtesy of St. Lawrence Radiology Group and Friends of Coal. Just finishing this race is a major accomplishment and Borich kicked it off by grabbing the $250 Motosport.com Holeshot Award to start the race. The defending series champ led the opening lap until a small mistake in the woods allowed GT Thunder’s Brian Wolf to take the lead.
Wolf, last year’s Snowshoe winner, made the most of the gift that Borich had given him and at mile-marker 13 his pit crew was telling him he had a one-minute lead over second, however, his day came to an abrupt end when he snapped his chain on the rocky trail. At that point, Bithell took his turn up front and held a comfortable gap at the halfway point of the race.
On the final lap, McGill found his way around Bithell and into the lead when he blitzed a nasty mud hole that Bithell chose to ride around. Borich was on the move as well, and passed Bithell a short time later to move into second before setting his sights on McGill. Once Borich got within striking distance of McGill, however, his engine locked up and left him on the side of the trail, leaving McGill with nothing but clear trail ahead of him.
At the finish, McGill crossed the line with fist in the air to claim the “W” ahead of Bithell and Cook.
“I can’t describe how good this feels,” says McGill. “Bithell was ahead of me and he went up around a ditch and I just hit it wide open and got the lead. I knew from there if I could get through the last mud hole I could win it and I just pushed and pushed. I looked back at one point and Borich was behind me and then all of a sudden he was gone and that was it.”
After the race, Bithell talked about how difficult the race was.
“There were so many lines you could take out there and one could lead you to the trail and the other could lead you to somewhere real bad,” says Bithell. “But there were so many fans out there helping everyone through all the bad spots and I just want to thank all the fans.”
Cook was obviously happy to be on the podium for third.
“This has been coming for a long time,” says Cook. “We’ve got the bike working good now and it’s good to get up here.
“After the start I just took it easy until I got to a portion of the track that I was comfortable with and then I just put the hammer down and moved up into third. Me and McGill swapped back and forth a little bit and then on the last lap I made a couple of mistakes.”
Honda-mounted Jarrod McClure bounced back with a fourth place finish after three-straight races where he finished outside the top 10. Meanwhile, Donnie Ockerman put his JET Suspension Honda into a solid fifth, finishing just ahead of GNCC legend Bill Ballance on his Ballance Racing Yamaha.
GT Thunder rider Kevin Yoho was eighth, while Jeffrey Pickens (Yam) and Craig Bowman (Hon) rounded out the top 10.
In the XC2 class, Walker Fowler made it seven wins in a row and finished the event in third overall; however, it wasn’t an easy race for the Ballance Racing Yamaha rider.
“I let my nerves get the best of me and I blew the first turn and hit a hay bale,” says Fowler. “I didn’t ride well at all on the first lap and the entire second row got around me. After that I just settled down and started riding like I should have from the get-go and started picking off riders and found myself up front.”
Greg’s ATV & Cycle Yamaha riders Gabe Phillips and Patrick McGuire finished on the podium in second and third, respectively. Like Fowler, Phillips also hit a hay bale in the first turn.
“Me and Jeffrey Pickens hooked up and we ran a good pace,” says Phillips. “I caught up with Johnny Gallagher and then he got sideways and I got around him and then after that I never looked back.”
Aarol Bright topped fellow KTM rider Richie Brown for fourth, with Matt Pierce taking sixth on a Yamaha.
Suzuki rider Blake Kramer beat out Yamaha riders Joshua Merritt and Matt Hanna for seventh, while Michael Lancaster was 10th on a Honda.
Tyler Bostock was the top finishing “non-Pro” rider, winning the College A (16-21) class with a 15th overall finish.
In the A.M. race, Michael Swift checked out on the rest of the pack to claim first overall, in addition to taking the $100 GT Thunder Amateur Overall. The Can-Am rider also won the 4×4 Open division, beating out second place finisher Zachary Zakowski (CAN). Meanwhile, Clifton Beasley was third overall and first in the U2 class. Can-Am riders Scott Day and Samuel Williams were second and third in the U2 class, respectively.
In the Youth division, Hunter Hart (COB) took the overall award for the sixth time this year, beating out Westly Wolfe (APX) and Blaine Martin (Yam) in the process.
The 2011 Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series heads to Millfield, Ohio for the Wiseco John Penton GNCC on July 9 & 10.
|GNCC XC1 Standings||GNCC XC2 Standings|
|1.||Chris Borich||Suzuki||170 (4 wins)||1.||Walker Fowler||Yamaha||210 (7 wins)|
|2.||Adam McGill||Can-Am||163 (2 wins)||2.||Gabe Phillips||Yamaha||151|
|3.||Chris Bithell||Can-Am||141||3.||Patrick McGuire||Yamaha||121|
|4.||Taylor Kiser||Yamaha||136||4.||Eric Hoyland||Honda||112|
|5.||Bryan Cook||KTM||103||5.||Aarol Bright||KTM||106|
|6.||Brian Wolf||Honda||100 (1 win)||6.||Parker Jones||Honda||96|
|7.||Donald Ockerman||Honda||98||7.||Dustin Canipe||Honda||95|
|8.||Jarrod McClure||Honda||95||8.||Matt Hanna||Yamaha||88|
|9.||Kevin Yoho||Yamaha||87||9.||Richie Brown||KTM||80|
|10.||Johnny Gallagher||Yamaha||72||10.||Blake Kramer||Suzuki||71|
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