AMSOIL Hoosier: Women’s Race Report
CRAWFORDSVILLE, Ind. (May 10, 2023) - Another weekend of opposite conditions had us on our toes for the women racing the 2023 Grand National Cross Country Series presented by Specialized, an AMA National Championship. Round 6 kicked off with Micros and ATVs on Saturday in stellar conditions at Ironman Raceway in Crawfordsville, IN for the AMSOIL Hoosier event. After a thunderstorm blew through on Saturday night, the motorcycles had all new circumstances to compete with. Here's how things went for the female athletes at the Hoosier.
In the WXC ATV class, it was 12-time champion, Traci Pickens taking the BNR Motorsports Holeshot on her GBC Tires/Yamaha Racing/Fly Racing machine. For your top three in points leading into this round, trouble followed just after the sound of Mikey Waynes' "Ten Second" call. Hannah "Hurricane" Hunter found herself and her Fly Racing/OBOR Tires/HMF ATV rolling in the first turn. Just one straight-away later, Jessica Elioff and Kate Osburn locked wheels in turn two to come to a halt. The two broke free and made their way into the woods at the back of the pack as Hunter righted her machine and began her race appearing sore from her crash.
That was nowhere near the end of the excitement as battles ensued over the next two hours! Pickens would hold her lead checking in for lap one with Chloe Harper on her wheels and Osburn just 10 seconds back on her JMR/Action Off-Road/GBC/Moose Racing ATV. Harper took over the lead on lap two as Osburn moved into second and Pickens to back to third, but that would be the end of Harper's race after an unfortunate mechanical.
Osburn inherited the lead on the third lap. Jessica Elioff had a few struggles early in the race on her Elioff Racing/BNR Motorsports/GBC Tires/Fly Racing backed ride but made her way into a podium position on lap three with Pickens close in tow. Going into the final lap, Elioff made the pass and pulled a gap on Osburn to hold the lead position. Osburn and Pickens were neck and neck to see the white flag with a hungry Hannah Hunter only 30 seconds behind in 4th.
Elioff extended her lead to win by over a minute and take her fourth win of the season! Kate Osburn made her way to the checkers for 2nd place. Hannah Hunter fought from a rough start for an impressive 3rd place. Traci Pickens, who was in the fight for second on the final lap, had an unfortunate crash in the fields costing her time to roll her machine over and dropped back to 4th place. Karlie Martin would round out the top 5 finishing just one minute off of Pickens.
"It was a battle from the beginning to the end," Elioff said after she finished. "I mean me, and Hannah hit in the first turn, and then me and Kate got caught up together in the second turn. We were trying to get them apart and finally did to go in at the back of the pack. Then we were just battling throughout the entire race. On the first lap I got a piece of rebar stuck through my a-arm and through my nerf bar! I was kicking it trying to break it off and it was pulling my quad to the left. I finally got it out, but everyone had passed me back, so I worked from last all the way back up all over again and made it to the lead. I'm thankful to be here!"
"The start was horrible," said Kate Osburn on the podium. "I don't know what happened, but I got in the back of Jess at the start, so we were both dead last. We made our way through the pack; it was a good race. I felt good, the bike felt good. I had an incident on the last lap, I'm not sure what happened but I ended up underneath the quad. We made it to 2nd and I'm happy to get on the podium today, it was a good day."
Defending champion, Hannah Hunter, in her valiant effort after a rough start said, "In the first turn, I got together with someone and flipped off the bike, then someone ran me over. I rode with bent bars the whole race, but at least we made it on the podium. I need to heal up, I'm pretty sore, but plan to regroup and comeback stronger."
By the time Sunday rolled around, a massive thunderstorm had rumbled through Ironman Raceway overnight with torrential downpours, making for wild conditions for the WXC Bike class at the Amsoil Hoosier. The female athletes lined up their motorcycles in the standing water and mud Sunday morning ready to battle. As Ricky Towery waved the green flag, Korie Steede would add another Trail Jesters holeshot to her count on her Trail Jester KTM Racing 250F.
The top three in points soon found themselves in the lead of the pack battling head to head. AmPro Yamaha's Rachael Archer made her way to the lead before checking for lap one with Rachel Gutish in 2nd just a few seconds back on her Over and Out Moto GasGas, and Steede in 3rd close behind. Archer was able to widen her gap to three minutes by the end of lap 2, Gutish moved into 2nd place, and Steede just 45 seconds back. By this time, the racers are covered head to toe in mud, the ruts are deep, and bottlenecks of lappers are plenty. Lap 3 proved to be troublesome for Gutish as she found herself buried in the mud. Archer built on her lead, Steede moved to 2nd, and WXC rookie, Kayla O'Neil, who was in 4th had closed in just 5 seconds behind Gutish.
On the final lap, Steede tried to tighten the gap and closed in by a minute, but it wasn't enough as Rachael Archer reached the checkered flag with six and a half minutes to spare to take her fourth WXC win of the season. Korie Steede raced in for 2nd place, and tensions rose as the crowd waited to see who would take the final spot on the WXC podium. Rachel Gutish knew by this point that her bike was on its last leg after sucking water in a creek crossing. She rode just ahead of V3 CDR/Garrison Tree Service's Kayla O’Neill. About a mile and a half from the finish, Gutish's machine gave in. O'Neill would make it to the checkers for her career first WXC podium. It was a moment to remember as her eyes lit up seeing the number three on the board when she reached the checkpoint. She'd had no idea!
A mention-worthy display of sportsmanship was shown during the WXC race by Korie Steede. Racing behind Rachel Gutish, Korie saw her heading into a hectic bottleneck of lappers on a hill when there was a smooth line around that had to be entered before. She knew she'd be stuck there if she continued. Steede stopped and yelled for Gutish until she got her attention to turn around and take the line with her. Korie said, "We're all in this together you know, and I want to have a quality race between us all. I was just trying to be a good person and hope others would do the same for me." Rachel said, "that was the nicest thing anyone's ever done for me during a race."
The top three WXC racers had their chance to chat about the race on the podium:
"It was pretty wet the first couple miles," Archer said. "I was soaked after about four miles and had no tear offs left. I got past Korie and Rachel, I guess they overshot a corner or something and I was able to get in the lead. A guy from Sportsman A caught up to me and we just rode together for a while. I got back past him and then I was just on my own trying to get through the lappers. It was super slippery the second and third lap so that was tough trying to navigate through them. But we got here and we're on the box!"
Korie Steede on her well-deserved 2nd place finish said, "I got off to a good start, me and Gutish had a little lead built up, then, I'm not sure what the confusion was but we got to an intersection, and we went right and apparently it was the wrong way. Archer and a couple of the Sportsman A guys got around us, and we were just riding behind them the first lap so that was a big bummer. That last lap the track was tacky and good, and it was finally fun that final lap! It was gnarly, probably the roughest mud race I've ever ridden. All the lappers were in the main line and stuck in the main line, so we were just paddling trying to get to a line to get up a hill and get around the course the best possible. We made it!"
An ecstatic Kayla O’Neill on her first podium chatted about her experience and said, "That was awesome! I'm so excited! My heart fell to my butt when I saw that number 3, I was so excited. Usually when I come to the finish line no one is standing there, and there were so many people there! I went through scoring, and it said three, and I was like 'are you serious?!' I was so excited. I'm so pumped. It's my first time on the podium and I've never been so excited. It was tough, the first lap was a lot of fun, but I knew as soon as it stopped raining it was going to be that stuck mud. My tires just looked like chocolate donuts. I was slipping and sliding everywhere. It got to the point I was just so tired when I'd fall and pick up my bike, it was so heavy. I tried to stay up on two wheels as much as possible and pick the smartest lines."
The WXC eMTB had their shot in the perfect condition on Saturday at the Hoosier for the third round of their series. It was a head to head battle between defending champion Ginny McFall and Ashley Hendershot. Ginny held the lead from start to finish to build a gap by the checkered flag of just under a minute.
"It was awesome," McFall said on the podium. "The course was fast and smooth, a lot of fun. Dry course, which was excellent. I'm just thankful for a fast race, getting to come and ride and race with my best friend is amazing. Just grateful for a beautiful day to come hang out, ride bikes, and do what we love."
"I kind of felt slow," Hendershot said, chuckling. "I've had a really rough start to this year, so my real goal for today was just to stay smooth and stay upright. I had a really bad crash a couple weeks ago at a local and that kind of messes with your head a little bit. I really just wanted to have a smooth race; I didn't care where I placed. I'm just glad I stayed smooth, stayed upright, and stayed on the lead lap, so I'm grateful."
The WXC classes aren't the end of the female athlete showing at GNCC Racing. With multiple youth girls’ classes, Women's classes, and even Women's Vet classes, there's room for everyone to show their skills and aspire to be at the top one day.
In the Girls Supermini Bike class, Zoey Kimble would take her first win of the season in the mud after a streak of seconds. Maddison "MadDog" Harmon took her first second place of the season, and points leader, Addison Harris, was able to make it to the 3rd place spot on the podium after a tough mud race.
Avery Collins has chosen to try her hand against the boys in the ATV Youth race in the YXC2 class this season, and it's paying off! Collins took her second win in a row at the Hoosier to make it three for the season and take over second in points.
The ATV Schoolgirl Sr. class was stacked with 18 racers! Isabella Gouker grabbed the top spot for the fourth time this year to extend her points lead. Madison Luckadoo followed up a tough race at Camp Coker with a 2nd place at The Hoosier, and Grace Bender took her first podium of the season in 3rd.
Annelisa McAlinney took her first win of the season in the Women's bike class! Ellie Winland led most of the race, but would grab 2nd, and Carly Lee 3rd.
Malia Crump makes The Hoosier her fourth consecutive win in the ATV Women's class leading from start to finish. Makenna Bruderly takes another podium for 2nd, and Alexis Keyes rounds out the podium with her first race of the season.
No matter the conditions, the incredible women of GNCC showed up and showed out at the Amsoil Hoosier GNCC for round 6. Round 7 is just around the corner at The John Penton and we're looking forward to watching some more epic racing!
For more information on the GNCC series, visit the official website at www.gnccracing.com or call (304) 284-0084. Join the conversation on the series Facebook page, follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and be sure to always hashtag #GNCC.
About GNCC Racing
The Grand National Cross Country Series presented by Specialized, an AMA National Championship, is the world premier cross country racing series. Founded in 1975, the 12-round motorcycle and ATV championship and 9-round eMTB championship, is produced exclusively by Racer Productions. Cross-country racing is one of the most physically demanding sports in the world. The grueling two and three-hour GNCC races lead as many as 2,800 riders through racetracks ranging in length from eight to 12 miles. With varied terrain, including hills, woods, mud, dirt, rocks, and motocross sections, GNCC events are tests of both survival and speed. The series draws talent from all over the U.S., Central America, South America, Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. GNCC Racing is televised live on RacerTV.com. For more information, please visit www.gnccracing.com.
About the American Motorcyclist Association
Founded in 1924, the AMA is a not-for-profit member-based association whose mission is to promote the motorcycle lifestyle and protect the future of motorcycling. As the world's largest motorcycling rights and event sanctioning organization, the AMA advocates for riders' interests at all levels of government and sanctions thousands of competition and recreational events every year. The AMA also provides money-saving discounts on products and services for its members. Through the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in Pickerington, Ohio, the AMA honors the heroes and heritage of motorcycling. For more information, visit www.americanmotorcyclist.com. Not a member? Join the AMA today: www.americanmotorcyclist.com/membership/join.