GNCC news Hawk champ

Raines takes win and Hawk clinches GNCC Title in Kentucky__

Barry Hawk's second-place finish at round eleven of the 2003 AMA Grand National Cross Country Series, the Dunlop Spartan GNCC in Sparta, Kentucky, was enough to wrap his first-ever GNCC bike championship. Hawk began racing motorcycles full-time four years ago, leaving seven GNCC ATV titles behind. Now he's champion again of the largest off-road racing series in America.

"We worked so hard for this, myself and the whole team," said Hawk. "Years ago, when I started winning on the ATVs, I looked up to guys like Rodney (Smith), Randy (Hawkins) and Scott (Summers). I couldn't even talk to them. I still look up to them! But I guess I'm with them now. It definitely hasn't sunk in yet."

Hawk has been dominant all season, winning the opening round in Florida and collecting four more wins throughout the season.

The dominant rider in Kentucky, however, was Hawk's Am-Pro Yamaha teammate Jason Raines. After battling nagging injuries left over from his ill-fated 2002 campaign, Raines was back and ready at Sparta. He won wire-to-wire in one of the most dominant rides in recent GNCC history. "I started feeling really good lately practicing," said Raines. "I've realized my problem is that I get too worked up and stressed at the GNCCs. So I just tried to get out front and think like I was just on another practice ride. My Yamaha got me out to a good start, and I tried to build a gap early."

GNCCs races are almost always nip-and-tuck affairs, but Raines won this one by nearly a minute. He lies second in series' points, but the win wasn't enough to stop his friend Hawk from winning a title.

"The first time I won an overall on the ATV was in 1991," said Hawk. "It took me another year to win another one, but after I did, I never quit. The same thing happened on the bike. When I first started, I used to sit on the line thinking, 'Maybe I could win, but I probably won't.' But I won an overall in 2001, and then I won again a year later. I used to think too much about what position I was in, what suspension setting we had, what tire we were using. I needed to just forget that, ride like I know how to ride and maybe we can win a championship. It's worked out awesome."

The Yamaha riders were followed by FMF Suzuki's Rodney Smith, who claimed third. The defending GNCC Champion graciously handed the number-one plate over to Hawk. "I didn't feel like I was on my game today, and I wasn't catching those guys, so I just took a third today," said Smith.

Fourth went to KTM's National Enduro Champion Mike Lafferty. Fifth was five-time GNCC Champ Scott Summers, who put in his best ride yet during his comeback. "I needed a top-five today, or I would have thought about ending this comeback attempt," said Summers, who retired due to a series of injuries in 2001. "I need to win. I just won't come out here to finish eighth. We were just a little too stiff on the suspension setting this weekend, and I got beat up too much. But we're getting close."

The rest of the field didn't have such a fortuitous day. Team Green Kawasaki's effort was absent at Sparta with Chuck Woodford playing the role of spectator, unable to race with a broken right wrist, and Fred Andrews missing it with bruised ribs. Team Suzuki terrible luck continued with Mike Kiedrowski pulling out of the race with a hand injury and Steve Hatch also suffering a DNF with a jammed thumb. And although KTM's Shane Watts rode well in Kentucky, staying near the top five for much of the race, he ran out of gas on the last lap.