GNCC Racing

Quick Fill #41: This Week in GNCC

Quick Fill #41: This Week in GNCC

Thursday, October 30, 2014 | 5:30 PM
Thursday, October 30, 2014 | 5:30 PM

Welcome to Quick Fill.

Say it ain’t so! The 2014 GNCC season is unofficially over with 13 rounds of great racing and even better memories behind us. I say unofficially, because we still have the GNCC Awards Banquet coming up Nov. 21 and 22 here in Morgantown, West Virginia. That gives us all one last opportunity to get together, have a little fun and reminisce on the good times we’ve had this season.

I don’t think there could have been any better way to end the season than to be in Crawfordsville, Indiana last weekend with the electric atmosphere that we call Ironman. I believe the official number of racers came to 2,269 total, which was 194 more riders than Unadilla saw this year, which means the 2014 Ironman GNCC now holds the record for the largest rider-attended race in GNCC history. So congratulations to all competitors who came out and were a part of this record-breaking event. Now we’ve seen a lot of speculation on the number of spectators and to be honest, I have not actually been told that number just yet. It takes a couple of days to get a realistic number after going through the front gate’s tally and ticket count so as soon as we get that, we will be sure to share that info. If it was anything close to what it looked like out there, I think we’ll be near record-breaking numbers on that front as well.

XC1 Add-Ons (Jen Ken)

It was very cool to see two healthy XC1 Pro rows on both the ATV and motorcycle side of things with 17 ATV pros on Saturday and 20 bike pros on Sunday. Two additions to the front line on Sunday came from overseas as Johnny Campbell and his JCR/Honda team invited World Enduro Champion Alex Salvini and Icelandic Enduro and Motocross Champ Kari Jonsson to race CRF450s in their first attempt at GNCC Racing. It was interesting to see two world-class athletes come into a new area and also to hear their perspective after three hours of racing. Salvini, who comes by way of Italy, admitted that he struggled with a few big crashes early on that made it difficult to gain any momentum. In fact, our friend Kyle Wolfe captured one of Salvini’s crashes in the creek that looked extra gnarly, showing the champ flinging head-first into the water. I can’t imagine that felt too good! He ended up finishing 13th in XC1 and he said he plans to make a return to GNCC now that he’s been through one round and has a better idea of what to expect. Jonsson, the Icelandic superstar, also ran into some issues early on that set him back from the pace of the front-runners. Jonsson said he enjoyed the Ironman track and would like to come back for redemption in the future.

Alex Salvini ended up 13th in XC1, and added that he plans to make a return to the GNCC Series
Alex Salvini ended up 13th in XC1, and added that he plans to make a return to the GNCC Series Photo: Ken Hill

KTM Support rider Grant Baylor made the jump into the XC1 Pro class after wrapping up his second straight XC2 title early. Riding a 450 for the first time in the GNCC series, the 17-year-old Baylor finished ninth in XC1 and tenth overall.

“The 450 was good but I still think I need to put more time in on the bike. It’s completely different starting in XC1 just from the little amount I rode with those guys,” Baylor said. “It seemed way more intense, it was an all out battle from the start and nothing like XC2 but I think it helped a lot for going into next year being able to move up for the last round so I can't wait to come back in 2015 and show them what I've got!”

On the ATV side, three-time AMA ATV Motocross National Champion Chad Wienen made an appearance in the XC1 Pro class and might I say did a pretty awesome job! Wienen finished 8th in the XC1 class and tenth overall for the day in his first GNCC race ever. Two hours is a whole lot more than the fast-paced motos he’s used to doing but hopefully we’ll be seeing a little more of the ATVMX Champ in 2015.

Mapped out are the keys for the ISDE
Mapped out are the keys for the ISDE Photo:

Time for Six Days! (Jared Bolton)

Shortly after the conclusion of last weekend's finale at the Ironman, there were quite a few riders en route to Argentina for the International Six Days Enduro. The ISDE began in 1913, originally known as the International Six Days Trial (ISDT); the "trial" was dropped for "enduro" in 1981. Each year, countries pick their best off-road riders, and motocross riders in some cases, to form multiple teams to compete. This year's ISDE kicks off on Monday and runs through next week, with the finale happening next Saturday.

The main focus is, of course, the "World Trophy" teams. Each country selects six riders to make up their World Trophy team. This year's American team is made up of Mike Brown, who serves as team captain, alongside Kailub Russell, Charlie Mullins, Thad Duvall, Taylor Robert and Zach Osborne.  

Just under the World Trophy teams are the Junior Teams, designed for riders under 23-years-old. The Junior teams are made up of four riders with this year's US team including Steward and Grant Baylor, Trevor Bollinger and Justin Jones. There is also a Women's team with Sarah Baldwin, Rachel Gutish and Mandi Mastin representing the USA this year. Both the Junior and Women's teams are stacked full of strong riders and both teams have historically put in strong finishes at the ISDE.

It doesn't end there, as there are also "Club Teams", which allow more riders to qualify for the ISDE and represent the USA aboard a Club-sponsored team. This year the Club Team to watch will definitely be that of the Wellard Team with Chris Bach, Andrew Delong and newly crowned WORCS champ Gary Sutherlin representing the USA.

While each rider represents a team, they also have to race in a particular class. Following the FIM rules, there are the E1, E2 and E3 classes. E1 is similar to our XC2 class with smaller bore motorcycles; 125cc 2-strokes and 250F's, while the E2 class is stacked full of 250cc 2-strokes and up to 450cc 4-strokes. The E3 class is more like an Open class with up to 500cc 2-strokes (although you're way more likely to see KTM 300 2-strokes in this class these days) and big bore 4-strokes, typically you'd see the mighty KTM 500XCWs in this class.

Confusing much? Six Days is a much different race than what we're used to here in the United States, in more ways than just how the teams and classes work.

The 2014 AMSOIL Ironman GNCC saw a record attendance!
The 2014 AMSOIL Ironman GNCC saw a record attendance! Photo: Ken Hill

USA vs. The World (Jared Bolton)

While the USA is fielding some of the strongest teams it ever has, they've still got their work cut out for them. Remember when I said there are more ways that the ISDE is different than we're used to? Well, the entire format is a good bit different. Even the "enduro" aspect of it is a lot different. American enduros are long, grueling, heavily-wooded events. Typically you're riding anywhere from 10-20 miles to make up one section of the race. Well, at the ISDE and World Enduros both, they're all about shorter sprint sections.

A lot of countries that these events visit, such as this year in Argentina, don't really have a lot of wooded land. That doesn't make a difference as they layout really elaborate grass track sections, and they're also a bit different than what we're used to. Our grass track sections in America are typically "point and shoot" style where you go into a hard right or left hand turn and head straight to the next one. With large numbers of riders and sometimes-limited space, this is the best practice for us.

Well, ISDE and European-style grass tracks are much more like a motocross track with no jumps. They're full of flowing and sweeping turns and are extra high speed. The woods are usually a little similar but the big difference is the sprint format. Tests are typically only around three to five miles in length and go by pretty quick. The European riders have adjusted to this format pretty well and are extremely fast in this type of racing, while American riders struggle with it as they're used to conserving energy to be in the saddle longer. 

The USA has never won a World Trophy title. However, the team has improved more and more each year and with the talent on this year's roster, I'd say they have as much of a shot as ever to make it happen.  

Kyle Chaney and co-pilot Chris Bithell took over the #1 plate for the 2015 season
Kyle Chaney and co-pilot Chris Bithell took over the #1 plate for the 2015 season Photo: Ken Hill

A New UTV Champ Emerges (Rodney Tomblin)

As history was being written in the epic 2014 season finale, it somehow found another fresh page when the UTV/Side-by-Side chapter opened up only moments following the checkers of a colossal ATV battle between Chris Borich and Walker Fowler. It was only a matter of “sealing the deal” for Can-Am’s Kyle Chaney and the XC1 Modified Championship.

Heading into the final round of this year’s championship, it was a matter of merely finishing the race for Kyle Chaney, who held a 28-point lead over second place. A rough start to the season is kind of an understatement. Chaney finished 20th in the opening round in Georgia and it didn’t look good, but anyone who follows this sport knows that anything can happen at any time to change the whole dynamic of the championship chase.

In year's past, we have seen even William Yokley win the championship and be amazed at it all in the end. If you go back to the 2010 season you will see that William won the title and didn’t even win a race that season! It was about consistency and capitalizing at the right moments. Don’t be fooled though, it has been about speed as well, but survival is as crucial as anything in this sport.

Knowing he was way behind and the season was early, Kyle Chaney and his co-pilot and ATV XC1 star Chris Bithell set out on a mission to do the only thing they could and that was win as many races or finish as strong as they could. Chaney drove to a second-place finish at round two before going on a three-race winning streak from there. Heading into the final round it was a matter of scoring a point as insurance for the championship.

The defending champion William Yokley can look back on his season and know he did all he could do. Being a champion multiple times in this young sport, he knew the dangers of this happening. As easy as it all seems to come at times for the champ, this season it seemed to go just as easy. William didn’t go down without a fight, though. He battled at every round searching for a win. He did grab the first win in Georgia but couldn’t seem to buy any more luck after that and struggled to make only two more podiums the rest of the season.

Is it a changing of the guard it this young sport? Is the William Yokley reign of championships over or is it a temporary situation that he will be back to reclaim in 2015? I don’t know myself but I do know that this side of our sport is starting to get pretty interesting itself.

Ryan Sipes shared his first GNCC podium with his newborn son, Jack
Ryan Sipes shared his first GNCC podium with his newborn son, Jack Photo: Ken Hill

Epic ATV Battles at Ironman! (Jared Bolton)

If you weren't at the Ironman ATV race, you missed a real barn-burner. With both the XC1 and XC2 titles coming down to the wire, everyone knew it was going to be a race for the record books, and that's exactly what it was. 

Walker Fowler and Chris Borich have exchanged the race lead many times throughout the 2014 season with Adam McGill being the only one to beat them, doing so at Snowshoe. Fowler went on a hot streak winning three rounds in a row after returning from summer break. Going into the Ironman finale, he had tied Borich for the overall points lead.  

Chris Borich and Walker Fowler did not disappoint with their battle to the finish
Chris Borich and Walker Fowler did not disappoint with their battle to the finish Photo: Ken Hill

Neither had to win. They only had to beat each other but they would end up putting on quite the show along the way. Fowler controlled the majority of the race but Borich stuck a last minute pass on him to take the win and the title. It was a classic Borich last-lap move and while sometimes it happens where people never see it, this time it happened right out in the middle of the final sections of the course coming off the final piece of the motocross track.

While all of this was going on, the XC2 boys were having a wild race of their own. Cole Richardson and Marshal Goings went head-to-head throughout the race, both gunning for the XC2 title. After swapping the lead multiple times throughout the race, Richardson ended up pulling away from Goings. Richardson would come away with the title but the duo also worked their way up pretty far into the overall as well.

Richardson ended up with a solid fourth place overall and Goings came away with seventh overall, both beating a number of standout XC1 riders. XC2 riders have taken overall wins before but it's typically been done in tough, technical tracks or in adverse weather conditions, so for these guys to do that well overall in good conditions is still pretty impressive. Not only that, but it goes to show that these two truly are the next crop of top riders to challenge for overall titles, so keep your eye on them!

Everywhere you turned at the AMSOIL Ironman GNCC you were sure to see pink!
Everywhere you turned at the AMSOIL Ironman GNCC you were sure to see pink! Photo: Ken Hill

Welcome to The Big Show (Rodney Tomblin)

You may have heard some of the talk going around toward the end of the season about the young Schoolboy A/B and 2013 Morning Overall champion Cody Collier was going to be moving up at the Ironman. Collier had hoped to win the #201 plate two years running but some early season issues kept him out of the running for the overall as the season came closer and closer to an end.

The early rumors were that he would race the 10 a.m. race and then race the XC2 Pro Am class in the afternoon. However, things soon changed and it was decided that he was out of the running for the morning overall so he was going to focus on the afternoon race only. Would it be XC2 Pro Am or would it be College A?

Honestly it may have been the best decision he could have made. I know that Cody is pretty well set on running the XC2 Pro Am in 2015. He has done so much historically on the ATV that he wants to be the first to go straight from the morning races to the XC2 Pro Am. That would be a pretty cool thing to see happen but is it the best thing to do?

I, for one, will be the first to admit that I don’t want to second-guess Cody Collier. The reason is because I really have to say that I am a little surprised at how quickly successes have come to this kid. Since dominating his final year in the Youth ranks, straight to winning overalls in the 10 a.m. race at 14-years-old, to then winning the morning  #201 plate at only 15-years-old, I am not saying that he can't do it. Collier is full of surprises and we may only be seeing the tip of the iceberg.

In the end, Collier elected to race the College A (16-21) class as his afternoon debut. And quite honestly it may have been the better move after all. I am by no means saying that he would have gotten lost in the shuffle of the Pro Am ranks, but boy did he ever shine as Top Amateur.

Cody Collier made his ATV afternoon debut at the Ironman GNCC
Cody Collier made his ATV afternoon debut at the Ironman GNCC Photo: Ken Hill

Cody was off to a winner's pace right from the start and actually pulled a pretty big lead early on. By the end of lap two, Collier had over a one-minute lead on second place. Problems on lap three brought the race to just over one second but by the end of the final lap Cody had stretched his lead back out to 54 seconds.

The battle netted him the class win and on top of that a 20th place overall and Top Amateur honors. It was nothing short of another spectacular first for this young man. This was undoubtedly a great start and great sounding of things to come. The big question right now is will he run XC2 Pro Am next season or race the College A 16-21 class for the championship, Top Amateur and a possible spot in history scoring a top 10 overall ranking as an amateur? Who knows for sure but it gives us a lot to think about as Cody Collier appears to be positioning himself to be a part of the next wave of new generation GNCC stars.

Jordan Ashburn is on his way to Japan to race their JNCC finale this Sunday
Jordan Ashburn is on his way to Japan to race their JNCC finale this Sunday Photo: Ken Hill


Did you miss the epic action from this year’s Powerline Park in St. Clairsville, OH? This Sunday, November 2nd the Powerline Park ATV and Bike highlights show will air on NBCSN at 3:00 PM EST.

Jordan Ashburn is set to race the JNCC AAGP finale in Japan this Sunday. More information HERE.

Five-Time GNCC Champion Scott Summers was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame earlier this month. Watch Scott's induction speech and learn about his journey in paving the way for off-road racing as we know it.

What’s New on

If you missed any rounds of the 2014 Grand National Cross Country Series presented by Maxxis you can go online to and check out the archived races.

Barry Hawk made his return to GNCC Racing at the same place he concluded his professional career
Barry Hawk made his return to GNCC Racing at the same place he concluded his professional career Photo: Ken Hill

News from GNCC, Riders and Sponsors

Just a reminder, the GNCC Awards Banquets are coming up Nov. 21 and 22 here in Morgantown, West Virgina. Don't forget to get your reservations taken care of and hotel rooms booked because they'll be going fast!

Just a couple of reminders on that, if you are a 50cc Micro participant and have qualified for the Awards Banquet, please pay attention to the following details: ATV Micros will be honored on Friday night with the rest of the ATV classes, and Micro Bikes will be honored on Saturday. If you believe you signed up for the wrong night, please contact Dan or Melanie at the Racer Productions office to get it corrected.