The Coastal Racing/Husqvarna Team showcased their mud riding skills on Sunday as they rode to two victories and four total podiums at the Powerline Park GNCC in St. Clairsville, Ohio. Team rider Craig DeLong led the way as he captured his first victory of the season in the XC2 250 Pro class, followed closely by his teammate Layne Michael in 2nd place. In the FMF XC3 Pro Am class, it was Great Britain's Jack Edmondson who returned to the center of the podium, where he was joined by Coastal Racing Team Manager and eight-time GNCC National Champion Barry Hawk for an impressive appearance on the box with 2nd place.
XC2 250 Pro (16-24)
With heavy rainfall coming down overnight, the team was forced to prepare for a slick afternoon of racing. The race began with clear skies above and Michael took advantage of the visibility as he jumped out front and led the class into the woods on the opening lap. DeLong put himself into a top-five position off the start before eventually climbing his way into 2nd by the end of the first lap.
Michael immediately put his head down and created a one-minute gap over DeLong and the rest of the field, where he also held the early overall lead on the adjusted time clock. As he was making his way up to the XC1 front-runners, Michael began to experience an issue with his clutch that caused him to gradually drop back in the overall running. Meanwhile, DeLong upped his pace on lap three and began to make his charge on Michael for the lead position. By lap four, DeLong was able to take over the lead position and from there he never looked back as he captured his first XC2 victory of the season at Round 12.
"I got off to a good start and went into the woods inside the top five. I made quick passes and got into 2nd and by then Layne had gapped me about 45 seconds and it grew to a minute on the slick course," DeLong said. "On lap three I had a great lap with no mistakes and I hit all of my marks. I caught and passed Layne and held on to take the win. I'm happy to get a win before the season is done."
Michael continued to battle clutch issues in the final two laps but despite his troubles, the West Virginia native was able to lock in the 2nd place position to further extend his podium streak to six-in-a-row this season.
"I had an amazing day going for most of the race," Michael said. "I was up there riding with the XC1 guys and I knew I had a comfortable lead in the XC2 class. When the two-lap board came out, I still had a good lap going behind Ricky Russell and that's when I felt my clutch starting to fail. There were times when I had no clutch at all and it would come and go but basically for the entire last lap I didn't have a clutch at all which made it very difficult. It's unfortunate because I was riding really well and the bike was working really good, except for that. I was really close but we rode good - I know the speed is there, the fitness is there but I just needed a little luck. It's all good, I was riding well and hopefully I can carry the momentum to the next round and finish out the year strong."
XC1 Open Pro
It was a tough day of racing in the mud for Ryan Sipes, who captured the overall victory last round in West Virginia. Sipes didn't get off to the best start as he rounded the opening lap in the 11th place position, setting himself up for a long day in the mud. With two laps to go, Sipes turned it up and moved himself into the 8th place position where he held strong for the remainder of the race.
"Man it was a tough one for me, especially coming off a win at the last round," Sipes said. "We showed up, looked good, and usually I like this track when it's dry but then it rained a lot on Saturday night and more during the race. I'm usually not a terrible mud rider but for some reason I couldn't make it click. I was going fast but I couldn't stay off the ground, so I did what I could to salvage 8th place and I'll go back do my homework and come out strong for the final round at Ironman."
FMF XC3 125 Pro-Am
Jack Edmondson made his return to the center of the podium on Sunday with an impressive ride in the adverse conditions. Edmondson put himself out front right away on the opening lap where he began to create a big gap on the rest of the field. There was no looking back for the young rider, as he finished 15 minutes ahead of the competition to claim his fifth victory of the season.
"It feels good to win again and I'm thankful I can continue to finish this season with good results so I'd like to say thank you to the team!" Edmondson said.
Meanwhile, Barry Hawk, who was talked into racing the XC3 class by his Coastal Racing team riders just that morning, was climbing his way through the pack after a top-five position off the start. Hawk made his way into the 2nd place position behind Edmondson and despite a tough run on the final lap, the eight-time GNCC Overall National Champion put himself atop the podium with an impressive 2nd place finish in the three-hour race.
"It's been seven years since I've entered the three-hour race and in no way did I expect to get on the podium - to be honest I was just hoping to take the checkered flag!" Hawk said. "But once the green flag waved, my inner racer took over and I tried not to push too hard. By the start of the fourth lap I was in 2nd place and I was having major leg cramps but there wasn't a chance I was going to give up! I made a bunch of mistakes on the last lap but I just pushed through it the best I could. It felt good to be back on the podium, especially getting my kids up there with me, as well as my rider Jack Edmondson, who took the win. It's a great memory I'll never forget."
Next Event: GNCC Round 13 - October 29, 2017
Results from the Powerline Park GNCC - Sunday, October 8, 2017
XC1 Open Pro Results
- Kailub Russell
- Josh Strang
- Russell Bobbitt
8. Ryan Sipes (HQV)
XC2 250 Pro (16-24) Results
- Craig DeLong (HQV)
- Layne Michael (HQV)
- Josh Toth
FMF XC3 125 Pro-Am Results
- Jack Edmondson (HQV)
- Barry Hawk (HQV)
- Devan Welch
XC1 Open Pro Championship Standings
- Kailub Russell (290)
- Thad DuVall (202)
- Ricky Russell (199)
8. Ryan Sipes (122)
XC2 250 Pro (16-24) Championship Standings
- Josh Toth (322)
- Craig DeLong (268)
- Layne Michael (262)
FMF XC3 125 Pro-Am Championship Standings
- Jason Thomas (292)
- Hunter Neuwirth (232)
- Mark Heresco Jr. (219)
- Jack Edmondson (208)