GNCC Racing

Quick Fill #11: This Week in GNCC

Quick Fill #11: This Week in GNCC

Thursday, March 22, 2018 | 12:45 PM
Thursday, March 22, 2018 | 12:45 PM

Welcome to Quick Fill.

Just like that, three rounds are in the books. All three have been pretty exciting in their own right and if this is what we have to expect out of the rest of the 2018 GNCC Racing season, then this year is definitely going to be one for the record books. So far, we’ve seen some close racing on both the ATV and bike sides, and we’ve already seen a first-time overall winner in the form of Brycen Neal. There have also been three really nice racecourses so far, and that could definitely help contribute to the close racing because if the track is good and the top guys are enjoying it too, then it just pushes them even harder.

At The General I did have a few folks ask me about the tracks so far this season and what we’ve been doing different. Well, to be honest, we haven’t been doing things significantly different but there have been a few tweaks to our program. While they’re mostly minor details with us finding new trail or simply using some trail that hasn’t been used in a number of years, there has been one slightly bigger thing different the past two rounds. We’ve got such a dedicated group of guys that some of our dozer operators have actually spent their evenings and a big part of their nights in the woods the past two rounds.

In years past this has been done for the youth bike courses to make the track as passable as possible. However, the past two rounds these guys have started at the end of the 1PM ATV race and basically stayed on those dozers, hitting as much of the course as possible until around 10:30pm! I think this has not only helped to make a good course for the Youth and 10AM races on Sunday, but it helps to make the 1PM course less rough as well. This is probably another contributing factor to the close racing we’ve seen on the bike side.

Changing the subject over to that “close racing”, there’s no doubt that the bikes have provided some excitement for all three rounds. It’s actually pretty unique to see how the game has changed a bit over the past couple of seasons. When the professional ranks of GNCC Racing took off in the 1990s the top bike guys would essentially go on a fast-paced trail ride for the opening portions of the race, then in the final hour they would turn up the heat and sprint to the finish.

When Juha Salminen came along in 2005, the game began to change a bit. Juha’s fitness and technique was so much different than what the top GNCC pros were used to that they were forced to figure it out. As the years progressed, we began to see the top pros sprint for the entire three-hour race. Now, it looks as if the game is changing once again. Kailub Russell and Thad Duvall are at the forefront of this change as from a spectator’s standpoint, it appears they’re taking a bit of a different approach.

All three rounds thus far, these guys have been the top guys to beat. However, they really don’t seem to push at their full potential until the second half of the race. For all three rounds, just before the two-lap card goes out, these guys have upped the pace and began to pull away from the rest of the pack. It seems as if they’ve settled into a smooth pace in the first half of the race, learned the track, and then began their drive to the front of the pack in the latter stages. On the flipside, guys like Steward Baylor and Trevor Bollinger have also been riding phenomenal this season, still running at that pace with the goal of getting out front early and holding that lead.

That technique may very well still work, because if they can pull out a good enough lead and save their fitness for the end of the race, then they can capitalize on Russell or Duvall waiting just a little too long to begin their charge. Overall, this change has definitely made for a very exciting season so far. Hopefully we continue to see this trend throughout the rest of the 2018 season, and moving forward because this has definitely made for some very exciting racing. 

That’s going to do it for the intro this week, so let’s jump into the rest of the Quick Fill goodies. Enjoy!

There's been some great racing at the front of the XC1 Pro class so far this season!
There's been some great racing at the front of the XC1 Pro class so far this season! Ken Hill

Four-Wheeled Action!

With three rounds of racing down, things are heating up on the ATV side. Walker Fowler started the 2018 season with back-to-back wins in the first two rounds before some issues at round three knocked him out of contention. That third round would prove to be a barnburner, as Brycen Neal would hold off Chris Borich down to the wire to grab his first-ever GNCC overall win. The two would be separated by less than one second at the finish, while Jarrod McClure would round out the podium in third just a few more seconds back.

This round seemed to be a good bit different than the first two where Walker Fowler checked out from the rest of the pack and let the other guys battle it out for the other podium spots. Round one would see a multi-rider battle for those podium spots as Brycen Neal, Chris Borich, Adam McGill and Jarrod McClure would all duke it out down to the finish for a podium finish. In the end, Fowler would take the round one win while Neal and Borich would round out those other two podium spots in second and third, respectively. At round two in Florida, the riders would be a little more spread out with Fowler taking the overall win once again while McGill and McClure would duke it out for the second and third place spots with McGill taking second and McClure third.

Much like the excitement I mentioned earlier with the bikes, hopefully this kind of action is what we can expect from the rest of the 2018 season. Round three goes to show that even the best can run into difficulties of their own and while Walker Fowler’s shot at becoming the first rider to even complete a perfect season (after coming close in 2017) may have come to an end, there’s no doubt that it could motivate the rest of the XC1 pack to up the pace and see if they can claim a win of their own.

Many expected Brycen Neal to claim his first win a little bit sooner, but now that he’s got the first one under his belt, another win could possibly come a little easier with the right amount of effort. When we roll into round three, Brycen will enter with a lot of eyes on him, but just as many eyes will be on Walker Fowler as he’ll be looking to bounce back and return to the center of the podium. Of course, these aren’t the only two guys to keep an eye on. Chris Borich came so close to the win in Georgia, so he’ll ultimately be hungry to win for the first time since Ironman 2014.

Adam McGill and Jarrod McClure are two more riders who will be motivated to hunt for a win. Both of these guys have put in excellent rides at each round this season and both know what it takes to end the day in first place. While Fowler ultimately stands out as the favorite, all of these guys have the potential to come out on top and all eyes will be on the front of the XC1 pack to see who comes out on top at Steele Creek.

The thing about Steele Creek is that it very well may be the most unpredictable event on the GNCC schedule. The weather is very unpredictable as you could be faced with cold, rain and snow or even be up against heat, dust and dry conditions. This also marks the first time of the season that we get into mountainous terrain, so the long, steep hills at Steele Creek can very well play a factor in the outcome of the race. No matter what happens, one thing we do know is that it is definitely going to be a great race to watch unfold. The Steele Creek crowd is always a big one and this year could be treated with one of the best races in a number of years. Don’t miss out!

The FMF XC3 Pro-Am class has seen three different winners in three different rounds! Can someone else step up and claim their first win of the season at Steele Creek?
The FMF XC3 Pro-Am class has seen three different winners in three different rounds! Can someone else step up and claim their first win of the season at Steele Creek? Ken Hill


The two-wheeled side of things has definitely seen some excitement of its own in 2018. I mentioned a bit of it in the intro, but let’s dive a little deeper and look a little further beyond the front of the XC1 class. Obviously, Kailub Russell is the man to beat with three wins in three rounds so far. However, those wins didn’t come without challenge, as Thad Duvall and Steward Baylor have both been right there in contention as well. On top of that, Trevor Bollinger has claimed three fourth-place finishes in the first three rounds and with his home race up next, one has to wonder what that will do for his confidence.

Steele Creek is a literal home race for Bollinger as he grew up and still lives just on the other side of town. It’s a pretty rare occurrence for a GNCC competitor to have a true “hometown” race, and with that type of motivation behind him, you can’t help but wonder if it will give Trevor that extra boost he’s been looking for. There’s no doubt that Trevor is comfortable on the Steele Creek course and while a podium finish in his home race would be great, there’s no doubt that what Trevor really wants is the overall win.

While Josh Strang may call Australia his real home, his American home is also not very far from Steele Creek. Living in Denver, North Carolina just around an hour from Steele Creek, Strang is no stranger to the center of the podium. The 2010 GNCC National Champion has claimed three wins at Steele Creek in the past, and will ultimately be looking to claim another win which would be his first since the Tomahawk GNCC in 2016.

In the XC2 class, Ben Kelley is on fire right now. After claiming his first-ever XC2 class win in Florida, he backed it up with another win at The General and currently holds the XC2 class points lead heading to Steele Creek. As part of the Trail Jesters crew, Kelley’s support from the Factory KTM folks has been upped a bit this season and it looks like the extra support has been key in taking Ben to the next level. Coastal Racing’s Pascal Rauchenecker has been pretty consistent so far in 2018, claiming two third place finishes and one second place. While some may have expected Pascal to come in and claim wins like he did in his debut performance at Ironman, his consistency is still key in keeping things close for the XC2 championship as he currently sits second place in class points.

Defending XC2 class champion, Josh Toth, started the season strong with a win at Big Buck, then lead until a crash in the final miles of the Wild Boar put him back to second place. Unfortunately, disaster would strike for Toth as an encounter with a vine would leave him with a hand injury, ultimately dropping him out a lap early and finishing 23rd place in the XC2 class. Last we heard Toth was still waiting to hear back on his injury, so we’ll keep an eye out for any updates! Craig Delong hasn’t exactly seen the season he had hoped for so far, but a fifth and two fourth place finishes is nothing to scoff at. There’s no doubt once Craig shakes out the minor issues that he’ll be back up front contending for XC2 class wins once again.

The XC3 class has been pretty exciting so far with three winners in three rounds. Alex Teagarden would put together a great ride at Big Buck to claim the class win. When we rolled into Florida, it came as no surprise that Florida’s own Jesse Ansley would come away with the class win, and then the round three win would go to Cody Barnes. However, through all of this, former XC1 Pro contender Jason Raines has been Mr. Consistent and currently leads the XC3 class points.

With all of this, on top of some great racing out of the amateur classes as well, there’s no doubt that the 2018 GNCC Racing is already one that people are going to talk about for years to come. If things keep going this way, then the rest of the 2018 season is going to be packed full of some tight battles and as the season wears on, there will definitely be some great battles develop for National Championships. Stay tuned; it can only get better from here!

Big Classic MX Series at Aonia Pass

Didn’t get enough of Aonia Pass at The General? Victory Sports’ Big Classic MX Series opens this weekend, Mar 24-25 at Aonia Pass. Visit for more information.

Rocky Mountain ATV/MC Race Gas Program Update!

New for 2018! Rocky Mountain ATV/MC Race Gas Program is excited to bring digital delivery for Race Gas Cash…No more waiting for cards in the mail!

Here’s how it works:

Pre-entering for GNCC Racing and using registering on the FastTrack, you’ll receive $20 in Race Gas Cash credits on (One cash credit per rider per event) Why the change? To get you your cash quicker* and to make it easier to use on the Rocky Mountain ATV/MC website or when calling in. When Race Gas Cash credits are earned, you’ll receive an email letting you know how much cash has been put into your account, what event you received it for and the expiration of that credit. If you don’t have an account with Rocky Mountain ATV/MC, you’ll have the opportunity to do so through the email that is sent to you.

*Please allow time for race event organizers to send Rocky Mountain ATV/MC your participation information after an event.

New from GNCC, Riders and Sponsors

The Maxxis General Photo Galleries

The Maxxis General Video Highlights

The Maxxis General Race Reports


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