Welcome to The Weekly Dirt. This week I shot the Steele Creek GNCC in Morganton, North Carolina where Josh Strang got his first win of the year at the expense of Charlie Mullins. This race was one of the best I’ve seen in a while and it boiled down to one of strangest finishes ever.
Charlie Mullins made one mistake all day long at the Steele Creek GNCC, and it cost him the race. After leading for most of the day, the FMF/KTM rider led Josh Strang into the home stretch. The last 100 yards of the race consisted of winding trail that featured several switchback turns. It was obvious that Strang wanted the win bad, and he stuck a wheel under Mullins at every turn, however Mullins had the FMF/Makita Suzuki rider covered. Strang even tried to stuff Hot Rod in the next-to-last corner, but to no avail. Strang said after the race that at that point he was ready to settle for second, however, in the final turn, with the finish line just 30 feet away, Mullins simply fell down. Strang couldn’t believe his good fortune and motored across the line for the win.
Charlie Mullins was so upset at himself that he went back to the KTM rig to compose himself before the podium celebration. On the podium, Mullins said it was a hard pill to swallow and he had never thrown away a race like that before. And while Strang took over the points lead with the win, the good news for Mullins is that there are still 10 rounds remaining on the schedule and, for sure, he’s riding as good as anyone right now – maybe better. Also, Mullins gets no time to dwell on the Steele Creek race, since the Texas National Enduro is this weekend. Meanwhile, Strang has to wait two weeks before the next GNCC.
Thad DuVall suffered a nasty crash in North Carolina while dicing with the leaders. The Am Pro/FMF/Yamaha rider looked in bad shape and had to be airlifted to a local hospital for treatment. I spoke with Randy Hawkins on Monday morning and the good news is that Thad’s injuries weren’t as bad as originally suspected. Still, Thad ended up with a broken bone in his wrist and a dislocated hip. According the Hawkins, DuVall could be back riding in a matter of weeks if the wrist doesn’t require surgery.
It was cool to see Simo Kirssi finally get in the groove this weekend in North Carolina. The FAR Husqvarna rider from Finland struggled at the first two rounds, but has spent some time at Randy Hawkin’s ranch working on his woods riding and bike set-up. All the hard work paid off in a sixth place finish at Steele Creek. Simo is riding the 310 TXC, which means he’s giving up a bit to the 450s, however, he got a great jump at the start and was in the top five when the pack rolled through the first turn.