Privateer Bryan Cook Wins Steele Creek GNCC Staff
by Staff
Honda pilot edges McGill and Ballance

Derisi Racing’s Bryan Cook fought off a pack of top contenders to win the 2009 FMF Steele Creek GNCC in Morganton, NC on March 21.

KTM’s Adam McGill, defending GNCC Champion, Yamaha’s Bill Ballance, Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Chris Borich and Yamaha’s Taylor Kiser battled wheel-to-wheel until the final lap, when Cook claimed first with McGill fast behind in second and Ballance in third. The leaders traded in and out of first place as the notorious Steele Creek mud hole after the concrete bridge captured more than a few riders.

“It was awesome, but nerve wracking there in the middle,” says Cook. “I had a good start but I made a mistake there at the mud hole. I thought I had thrown it away because it was so hard to pass. I was pretty confident {going into the fourth lap} but it really depended on how you caught the lappers. It was just a fun day.”

Bryan Cook earned a hard-fought victory. (Photo by Matt Ware)
Bill Ballance is rounding into form after his surgery. (Photo by Matt Ware)

Yamaha’s Donald Ockerman got out first and took the holeshot and led the pack on the first lap until McGill caught up to him. McGill led the way for several laps until his lead grew to 20 seconds. Cook caught up to him in the fourth lap after lapped riders started to slow him down. McGill’s second place finish was his third podium in three Can-Am GNCC Series races this year. He finished third in the first two races.

“Lappers definitely played a big role,” says McGill. “Everyone’s out there to race. You’ve just got to deal with it. I’ll have my day here soon.”

Ballance, who struggled for weeks after having injured ribs surgically removed, was welcomed back to the podium to applause.

“The last three months have been pretty tough,” says Ballance. “I was thrown a little bit of a curveball (at the beginning of the season) and I was wondering if we’d ever be back in this place again.”

Kiser came in fourth, ahead of Borich. Can-Am’s Chris Bithell came in sixth, Honda’s Duane Johnson in seventh and Yamaha’s Brandon Sommers in eighth. Rounding out the top 10 was Yamaha’s Johnny Gallagher and in tenth, Can-Am’s Brent Sturdivant.

In the XC2 Pro-Am class, KTM’s Josh Kirkland nabbed first place. Following him in second was Yamaha’s Brian Wolf and in third, Honda’s Eric Hoyland.

In the GNCC morning race, the ladies ruled the podium. FRE KTM’s Angel Atwell claimed her third win in a row, despite skipping a gear on the start. Atwell also collected another $100 from GT Thunder for the Morning Race Overall Win. Can-Am’s Lexie Coulter took second place and Yamaha’s Traci Cecco came in third.

Once again Can-Am dominated the 4×4 classes. Bryan Buckhannon took first in 4×4 Open, while Clifton Beasley took the win in 4×4 Lites and Michael Swift took first in 4×4 Limited.

The Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series heads to Union, SC for the Pirelli Big Buck GNCC, April 4-5.

Steele Creek GNCC ResultsGNCC XC1 Standings
1.Bryan CookHonda1.Taylor KiserYamaha73
2.Adam McGillKTM2.Chris BorichSuzuki70
3.Bill BallanceYamaha3.Adam McGillKTM67
4.Taylor KiserYamaha4.Bryan CookHonda50
5.Chris BorichSuzuki5.Donald OckermanYamaha39
6.Chris BithellCan-Am6.Chris BithellCan-Am37
7.Duane JohnsonHonda7.Duane JohnsonHonda37
8.Brandon SommersYamaha8.Johnny GallagherYamaha36
9.Johnny GallagherYamaha9.Brandon SommersYamaha36
10.Brent SturdivantCan-Am10.Jarrod McClureYamaha32

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