GNCC Racing

Quick Fill #5: This Week in GNCC

Quick Fill #5: This Week in GNCC

Thursday, February 10, 2022 | 4:50 PM
Thursday, February 10, 2022 | 4:50 PM

Welcome to Quick Fill. 

The off-season is really beginning to wind down as this time next week we’ll be making a full-on invasion of the Big Buck Farm. It’s an exciting time as the first round of the season is always like a giant reunion full of good times and great racing. This year really promises to produce even more of that as there really is a depth of talent on both the ATV and bike sides who have the potential to run at the front of the pack and challenge for race wins. Are you ready? Because we’re almost out of time! 

For the bike riders, last weekend was sort of like an unofficial teaser to the new year as a slew of racers took on the Sumter National Enduro in South Carolina. This is always a huge event with some close racing, but Steward Baylor is always really good at Sumter and ended up snagging the win. In fact, since 2012 Stu has won 6 of the now 11 Sumter Enduros that have been ran. The only other repeat winner in that time frame is Russell Bobbitt, who won it in 2013 and 2019. Ryder Lafferty put together a really solid ride of his own and ended the day in second place with Josh Toth landing on the podium in third. This is actually pretty good for Toth as the last couple of years he’s came out of the National Enduro opener a little bit banged up. Last year he went on to challenge Steward Baylor for the National Enduro title and actually won more races than anyone, but Stu edged him out in the end. Toth getting through that first round healthy and on the podium could be a sign of some really tight racing to come through the rest of the year for those guys. 

In the Pro 2 class, Ben Nelko grabbed the class win over Brody Johnson in second and Jonathan Johnson in third. While these guys will have some additional challengers in the GNCC XC2 class, this is pretty cool to see and goes to show that these guys have put in the work over the off-season and we very well may see these guys duking it out at the front of the XC2 class as well. Rachael Archer took the Women’s Elite win with Korie Steede and Mackenzie Tricker on the podium as well. Just like that Pro 2 class, this very well could be a bit of a teaser for the GNCC WXC class as these ladies were absolutely flying and will be looking to do so again at Big Buck next week. 

I stopped by the KTM Trackside Support set up at Sumter and it was a great reminder that those guys will be back with us at all the GNCC events in 2022. The KTM Trackside Support rig isn’t just a display or a place to show off KTM products, they are actually there to help KTM riders with technical issues and they have a wide variety of parts on the truck in case you need something. Not only are they back at each event, but they’re planning to be at The General on Thursday so if you have any issues that you can’t resolve between Wild Boar and The General, you’ll actually have some extra time to get your bike to their truck for them to take a look. 

That trackside support rig is actually made up of full-time KTM employees who work with the various KTM machines daily and on top of that, they all are avid riders and racers as well. Plus, you never know who might be there to help work on your machine. Mr. Blackwater 100 himself, Mark Hyde, has been the driving force behind this program and will still be around a lot of the events, but he’s actually turning the reigns over to eight-time National Enduro champ, Mike Lafferty, who won all eight of his titles aboard a KTM. In addition to them, guys like Ben Weathers, Scott Harwell and Rob Hnath are all accomplished A-level racers who work at KTM and will be there to assist as well. So, if you ever need some help with your machine, just know it's in good hands at the Trackside Support rig. 

In other news, this just in; Josep Garcia is coming to race the first three GNCC events! If you’re not familiar, Josep is an insanely fast Spaniard who contests the EnduroGP World Championship, ISDE and other global events. He actually won the overall at last year’s ISDE and the E2 class championship in the EnduroGP World Championship. Josep’s raw speed is impressive and it’s definitely going to be exciting to see Josep come try his hand at GNCC for the first time. While it’s only the first three events, there’s always a chance that things could go pretty well and we could see him come give a full-time effort in the future. That’s unlikely for 2022 as he’s committed to the EnduroGP World Championship once again, but beyond that, anything is possible. 

On the ATV side of things, the boys were back in action last weekend with the FTR series. Just glancing at the results it was Adam McGill jumping out to the early race lead which he would hold for the first half of the race. It would then be Hunter Hart, working his way from fourth place on the opening lap to take over the lead but McGill didn’t go down without a fight. He stayed hot on Hart’s rear wheels as the lead duo was never separated by more than five seconds through the final two laps. In the end, Hart would take the win over McGill with Walker Fowler landing on the podium in third. Cole Richardson ran in the second place spot early before eventually finishing the day in fourth while Josh Merritt put together a solid ride of his own to round out the top five. 

This is pretty interesting to see as that’s now three FTR race wins in a row for Hunter Hart and the last two of those came with Walker Fowler in the mix as well. Hunter spends a good bit of time in Florida, but Walker is no slouch in the sand either because, well, he has actually won the Wild Boar event all seven times we’ve raced there. While pre-season races are never a given of what is to come in the new GNCC season, this really will put a lot of eyes on Hunter Hart coming into the new season. But, we can’t forget about Brycen Neal. He won three races in 2021, suffered some mechanical issues at some others and missed the last half of the season with injuries but that mean’s he’s had plenty of time to think about what he needs to do to continually run at the front of the pack. 

At the Sumter Enduro I actually spoke to Chris Landers who owns the Magna1 Motorsports team. They’re supporting Brycen this year and Chris said Brycen has really been putting in the work and is looking really, really good. If you notice, we haven’t mentioned Brycen contesting any off-season races. He’s sort of been quiet and this very well could mean he comes out swinging in 2022 looking to challenge for the ATV National Championship. Between him and Hunter Hart, who’s looked really fast through the off-season, and a number of other challengers, Walker Fowler really has his work cut out for himself this year. 

But, the thing about Walker is that the guy is just good. He always manages to get it done and even on his worst days he still seems to somehow dig deep and salvage a podium, or at worst a top five. Walker is still young and still has plenty of tricks up his sleeve, so while I think we’re going to see some tight racing for overall wins, don’t count Walker out because the guy is a seven-time champ for a reason. 

And that’s going to do it for this week’s edition of Quick Fill. Enjoy your last weekend off before the season starts and we’ll see you back here next week for, yes, a teaser of what to expect at Big Buck.

Random Photo of the Week

Zach Holbert is always willing to lend a helping hand in anyway, at any time.
Zach Holbert is always willing to lend a helping hand in anyway, at any time. Jared Bolton