Ironman GNCC Race Report - News - Dirt Rider

With a big win at the Klotz Ironman GNCC, Am Pro Yamaha's Barry Hawk ended the 2004 Grand National Cross Country season with three-straight victories. But Hawk has seen better days, because after the race he had to hand his GNCC number-one plate over to FMF Suzuki's Rodney Smith, who clinched an historic fifth-career GNCC thanks to another strong, consistent season."I really didn't think I would win this title this year," said Smith, who ended up clinching the championship at the Ironman when his rival, Am Pro Yamaha's Jason Raines, was unable to race due to a broken shoulder. "This year I turned 40, and I don't know what it is about that age, but sometimes you have some doubts. But then I got a win at 40, and I think that was a big turning point for me. Winning the title at 40, that's such a big milemarker, I'd say this is the sweetest out of all the titles I have."

Hawk had to hand his plate back to Smith after taking it from him last year, but he did end his season on a high note by outdueling National Enduro Champion Mike Lafferty for a win. "I'm definitely happy, especially because we won the last two races on the 2005 YZ," said Hawk. "We got a lot of homework done early, so we'll be ready for next year. It's okay to have to hand it over to Rodney, though. He's a great guy. I remember looking up to him when I was just an A rider, and I felt like I could hardly even talk to him! And I still look up to him. He's a great champion, and I can't take anything away from him."Lafferty, who has struggled in his comeback from a knee injury, logged his best GNCC ride of the year with second. "It was all mental for me," said Lafferty. "My KTM 450 is awesome, and I feel strong. Today, I had fun. I hooked up with Barry and we kept it clean. I really wanted to win this one, but I took a bad line on the last lap, and I came up just a little bit short."For the second race in a row, Team Green Kawasaki's Chuck Woodford ended up third. "I'm excited now," said Woodford, who had struggled for most of the season. "The worst is behind me. I never really battled with anyone today, I just rode my own race, and when guys made mistakes, I went around them."FMF Suzuki's Doug Blackwell overcame a terrible start and clawed all the way back to fourth overall, with Kawasaki's Steve Hatch ending a solid season in fifth.With the title sewn up, Smith dropped from the race early and let his historic victory celebration begin. Smith's 2004 achievement is significant for several reasons. Not only is he the first 40-year-old to clinch America's most prestigious off-road title, but his fifth GNCC title ties him with series legends Scott Summers and Ed Lojak on top of the all-time title list. "When Suzuki switched to this series years ago, I remember thinking, I was in my thirties, and I didn't think I was young enough to learn everything and even win one title," said Smith. "I definitely didn't think I would be able to match Scott. He's kind of like a role model for me, he's so professional and he really brought the sport to another level. It's amazing to me that I was able to match his record."

||||| |---|---|---|---| The Ironman GNCC - Round 14 Pro Class Results|Pos|Rider|Hometown|Bike**| |1. |Barry Hawk Jr. |Smithfield, PA |Yam| |2. |Michael Lafferty |Millville, NJ |KTM| |3. |Chuck Woodford |St. Clairsville, OH |Kaw| |4. |Doug Blackwell |Parkerburg, WV |Suz| |5. |Steve Hatch |Scottsdale, AZ |Kaw| |6. |Cole Calkins |East Sparta, OH |Kaw| |7. |Robbie Jenks |New Straitsville, OH |Yam| |8. |P A Allen |Van Leer, TN |Kaw| |9. |Charles Mullins |Trenton, OH |KTM| |10. |Scott Summers |Petersburg, KY |Hon| |11. |John Barber |Aliquippa, PA |Gas| |12. |Greg Gillian |Cross Lanes, WV |Hon| |13. |Andy Shea |Oxford, OH |Kaw| |14. |Jeremy Smith |Canton, IL |Yam| |15. |Fred Andrews |Salem, OH |Suz| |16. |Brian Lawson |Adams, MA |Yam| |17. |Joshua McLevy |Fairfield, CT |Kaw| |18. |Ben Bouwens |Newark, NY |Yam| |19. |Rodney Smith |Antioch, CA |Suz|