Juha Tops the Underdogs at the Wiseco John Penton GNCC - News - Dirt Rider Magazine

The factory KTM team considers the Wiseco John Penton GNCC a home race, since the event is named after the original KTM U.S. importer, John Penton, and the company's American headquarters still reside in Ohio. Last year KTM brought ten-time World Enduro Champion Juha Salminen over to race the event, and he crossed the finish line a solid second in his first GNCC. A year later, he is the points leader in the Suzuki Grand National Cross Country Series, and now, he's the winner of the 2005 edition of The John Penton GNCC."I'm still working hard at this, but honesty it was easy today," said Juha, who has been absolutely dominant in his first full-season in the U.S. "I had a good start, and that helps. I liked the track. Last year I only did one race to get an idea of what to do, so I didn't know what to expect this year. It was like a black hole, I didn't know what to think. But now, here we are."Salminen has now won three GNCCs in a row and five out of seven for the year.While frustration mounts for the other GNCC title contenders, a pair of local favorites claimed their first podiums this year, making the thousands on hand in Ohio very happy. New Straitsville, Ohio's Robbie Jenks put his KTM on the box, giving the Austrian brand a 1 - 2 sweep, while Parkersburg, West Virginia's Doug Blackwell came home third on his SCR Suzuki."This is my hometown track, and it was awesome today," said Robbie Jenks. "The fans kept me motivated. It got really rutty, and you had to watch where you were going with the lapped guys. The bummer is that we have a few weeks off now, but we have to try to keep this momentum going."John Penton himself was on hand to watch the 1 - 2 KTM finish. "These boys gave an 80-year-old man a lot of pride," said Penton.The much-lamented Blackwell was pumped to finally get on the podium in third. "I've been struggling so hard this year, I didn't even know if I still wanted to go racing," said Blackwell. "I was pissed. Things haven't been working out like I hoped. But the biggest thing today was the fans. I had people pushing me all day."Am Pro Yamaha's Barry Hawk took a frustrating fourth, and FMF/Throttlehead.com/Kawasaki's Steve Hatch was fifth.After coming from last to first at the previous GNCC at Loretta Lynn's Ranch, Salminen started much better this time, battling for the holeshot with Jenks and Hatch before taking the lead and checking out in his customary fashion. As always, Juha was incredibly smooth and error-free in his riding, conserving energy and riding strong to the finish. The rest of the pack had to fight hard in the goo and deep ruts of Ohio, as the Sunday Creek Raceway facility was doused with rain and hail earlier in the weekend.Maxxis/Suzuki's Brian Garrahan rode a solid race for sixth, with R.E.R. Motorcity Yamaha rider Nate Kanney in seventh. FMF Suzuki's own Ohio threat, Fred Andrews, was eighth, Kawasaki Team Green rookie PA Allen was ninth, and the top amateur, Fun Mart KTM 250 A rider DR Atwood, finished tenth.Shane Watts pulled out of the race after falling back a few positions at the mid-way point, and Am Pro Yamaha's Jason Raines struggled again to a 12th overall after battling with Andrews for most of the race. FMF Suzuki's Australian upstart Glenn Kearney crashed in the first turn and broke his kick start lever. Time lost in the pits replacing it dropped him to 18th at the finish.Glenn Kearney summed up his day, "I crashed in the second turn and although I didn't know it at the time, I had almost completely broken off my kick starter in the crash. Because it was hanging on within an inch of its life, when I tried to start the bike the starter just went flying off!" Kearney had to push his bike up one of the hills on the start and bump start it down; getting back onto the track just as the second wave was leaving the start line.Another crash only minutes later in a deep mud hole cost Kearney more precious time, and his gloves—as they were completely ruined by the mud when he crashed. "I lost about 5 minutes in the second crash, and also my gloves, so I rode the entire first lap in last place with no kick starter or gloves. When I came back into the pits for the first time I got my kick starter put back on and some new gloves then just hunted down riders for the remainder of the race!"Kearney's sub-par finish cost him second place in the points. Barry Hawk now sits in second, a mere two points over Kearney. Robbie Jenks and Steve Hatch round out the top five, respectively. And in yet another impressive feat, Am Pro Yamaha's budding 250 A rider Charlie Mullins holds sixth place over Shane Watts.The Wiseco John Penton GNCC was taped for an airing on the Outdoor Life Network, and GNCC races air Tuesdays at 5 p.m., Thursdays at 11 a.m. and Saturdays at 2 p.m. EST.The Suzuki Grand National Cross Country Series continues in four weeks with the FMF Mountaineer GNCC in Summersville, West Virginia, on June 11 and 12.Overall Results - Wiseco John Penton GNCC - Millfield, OH
1. Juha Salminen Finland, KTM 02:50:15
2. Robbie Jenks New Straitsville, OH KTM 02:53:54
3. Doug Blackwell Parkersburg, WV SUZ 02:55:43
4. Barry Hawk, Jr. Smithfield, PA YAM 02:57:05
5. Steve Hatch Scottsdale, AZ KAW 02:59:26
6. Brian Garrahan Boulder Creek, CA SUZ 03:01:04
7. Nathan Kanney High Falls, NY YAM 03:01:31
8. Fred Andrews Salem, OH SUZ 03:01:53
9. P A Allen Charlotte, TN KAW 03:02:44
10. D R Atwood Millfield, OH KTM 03:02:47
11. Jason Raines Belfair, WA YAM 03:02:49
12. Charles Mullins Hamilton, OH YAM 03:03:00
13. Justin Williamson Sanford, FL YAM 03:03:30
14. Travis Green Vinton, OH KAW 03:07:21
15. Scott Watkins Leetonia, OH KAW 03:08:28
16. John Barber Aliquippa, PA GAS 03:09:22
17. Stephen Edmondson North Augusta, SC KTM 03:11:30
18. Glenn Kearney Australia, SUZ 03:12:21
19. Ryan Rodgers Dover, PA YAM 03:12:37
20. Gary Fridley Lost Creek, WV YAM 02:51:10Suzuki GNCC Series Overall Point Standings
(After 7 of 13 rounds)
1. Juha Salminen 196/5 wins
2. Barry Hawk, Jr. 123/1 win
3. Glenn Kearney 121
4. Robbie Jenks 101
5. Steve Hatch 91
6. Charlie Mullins 77
7. Shane Watts 72
8. Brian Garrahan 66
9. Mike Lafferty 62
10. Chuck Woodford 61