GNCC News Release
Morgantown, W. Va. (March 28, 2012) – Only one point separates defending champion Charlie Mullins from current points leader Paul Whibley in the quest for the 2012 Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series championship. Whibley, the 2009 GNCC Champion, finished a close second to Mullins in last season’s championship, but the New Zealand native secured a dramatic win over Mullins at this year’s season opener. Then young gun Kailub Russell snuck in and stole the win from the veterans in round two, bouncing back from a shoulder injury at the season opener in Florida. Where Mullins and Whibley simply worn down after exhausting themselves at the first race of the year? The answer could come at this weekend’s FMF Steele Creek GNCC, round three of the 13-race series.
Photo By: Ken Hill: Paul Whibley leads the point standings heading into round 3
The race takes place in Morganton, N.C., close to the North Carolina home bases of both Mullins and Russell, who also both ride for the factory FMF/KTM team. Mullins nearly won the race last year, leading a majority of the three-hour race before crashing in the last turn and handing Australia’s Josh Strang the victory. On rough, 12-mile course littered with mud, ruts, bumps and steep hillclimbs, it’s going to take not only a tough physical performance to win this weekend, but a solid mental game too.
AmPro Yamaha’s Whibley is one of the fiercest competitors on the circuit and mental toughness is arguably one of the Kiwi’s greatest strengths. He seems set on a collision course with the KTM boys, with several other contenders looking for podium real estate. Shenandoah Honda’s Thad DuVall, who currently sits fourth in the point standings after two consistent rides to start the yea, is rapidly adjusting to his new Honda mount and has the speed to run for a win. New Zealand’s Rory Mead grabbed a podium finish in round one and looks to repeat that here. Factory FMF/KTM’s Cory Buttrick and American Beta’s Chris Bach have both put in solid rides so far this season, only trailing Mead by a few points in the standings.
Defending XC2 Pro Lites champ Steward Baylor Jr. is young, but that hasn’t stopped him from pushing his KTM 250 XC 2-stroke through the XC1 Pro ranks on adjusted time to secure a third and seventh place overall so far this season, in addition to his 1-1 sweep in the Pro Lites class. Baylor tops F.A.R Husqvarna’s Jason Thomas and Husaberg’s Jesse Robinson in the series standings, but the two veterans show no signs of surrendering to the 17-year-old champ just yet.
In honor of the March of Dimes mission to work together for stronger, healthier babies, the FMF Steele Creek GNCC will be a purple-themed event this weekend. Racers and spectators can get in on the weekend’s fun by wearing purple clothes, riding gear, graphics and decorations. Big-ticket raffles with prizes suitable for both ATV and dirt bike racers will be held as the primary fundraising for the weekend, in addition to a purple podium backdrop that will be signed by the weekend’s top finishers and raffled off after the race.
Photo By: Ken Hill
Can Kailub Russell make it two-in-a-row this weekend?
In the GNCC spirit of competition, fun, and spectator involvement, there will be exciting events taking place at the starting line of both the 10 a.m. amateur race and the 1 p.m. pro race on both Saturday and Sunday. All proceeds from this event will go directly to the Foothills Division of the March of Dimes in Conover, N.C. For more information on the March of Dimes, please visit www.marchofdimes.com.
ATVs will compete throughout the day on Saturday, March 31, and dirt bikes will race on Sunday, April 1. Local riders are invited to race the event, as GNCC racing offers classes for riders of all skill and experience levels. The amateur racer entry fee is $40 and riders can sign up at the track. Spectator passes run $15 for the full weekend, with pro pit access and pro autographs at no additional charge.
The track is located at the Steele Creek campground. From Interstate 40 West, take Exit 105 to Highway 181 North 13 Miles.
For more information, check out the official series website at www.GNCCRacing.com or call 304-284-0084.
About GNCC Racing:
The Can-Am Grand National Cross Country series is America’s premier off-road racing series. Founded in 1975, the 13-round championship is produced exclusively by Racer Productions. Cross-country racing is one of the most physically demanding sports in the world. The grueling three-hour GNCC races lead as many as 1,500 riders through tracks ranging in length from ten to 12 miles. With varied terrain, including hills, woods, mud, dirt, rocks and motocross sections, GNCC events are tests of both survival and speed and draw talent from all over the U.S., Europe, Australia and New Zealand. GNCC Racing is televised and airs every week on NBC Sports Network. For more information, please visit www.gnccracing.com.