Yamaha Racing Ironman: Women's Race Report
The Women of GNCC finished the season off with quite the bang at The Yamaha Racing Ironman GNCC this weekend in Crawfordsville, Indiana to wrap up the 2023 Progressive Grand National Cross Country Series presented by Specialized, an AMA National Championship. It's that time of the year when we see upward movement from the female athletes to make their statement for the next year and we are here for it!
The WXC ATV was the race we've all been waiting for, and to say they delivered a show would be an understatement. The championship came down to the final round between BNR Motorsports/GBC Tires/Fly Racing's Jessica Elioff with a points lead and Fly Racing/OBOR Tires/HMF's defending champion Hannah Hunter. If Hunter won, Elioff would need at least a third to take the title, but with racers like Pro Graphx/Penske Racing Shocks/Lonestar's Chloe Harper and JMR/Action Off-Road/GBC/Moose Racing's Kate Osburn in the mix things were sure to get interesting, and they did!
Hannah "Hurricane" Hunter grabbed the BNR Motorsports holeshot and early lead. For the next two laps, the battle train was on! Hunter follows by Harper, Elioff, and Osburn raced wheel to wheel. On lap three Elioff was able to make the pass on Harper for second, but still only eight seconds separated the top three. Before the white flag, Harper made the moves to take over the lead with Elioff and Hunter two seconds in tow for a final lap battle!
Chloe Harper was able to not only follow up her win at Round 11 with another center spot, but also build a 42 second lead to take the checkers and set one heck of a tone for 2024! Hannah Hunter made the pass on Elliof for second and Jessica Elioff would take the final spot on the podium.
Although Hunter made the final lap move to beat Elioff on the weekend, it wasn't enough. Jessica Elioff claimed the WXC 2023 Championship!
Elioff taking third on the day and wrapping up the championship said, "Its super unbelievable. I going to be honest I am thankful for everybody in my corner that made this happen, it wasn’t just me. Just to be consistent, I mean staying on the grind trying to get a good start, I mean even if I wasn’t able to get a good start, I was able to get back. It’s been awesome, they’re fast and competitive and can’t think you’re better in any condition because we are all good at all the conditions out there and they didn’t make it easy!"
Harper with her third win in her first WXC season in the center of the box commented, "Feels pretty good honestly, making it 3 out of the year so I’m pretty proud of that. Just train and keep my head on straight to be my best for next year."
Hannah Hunter wasn't able to make it four titles in a row, but finished second on the weekend and gave it everything she could at the final round. "It was definitely a lot of up and downs," she said. "I’m just thankful I’m safe and I’m on the podium today and I get to go home. Well see, we have a couple changes going on, but I’ll be ready for next year!"
The Indiana Ironman dirt had tacked up to perfect conditions for the WXC Bike race Sunday morning. AmPro Yamaha's Rachael Archer claimed her second 2022 WXC title early, wrapping it up at The Mountaineer. To stamp the final round of the season, Archer grabbed the Trail Jesters holeshot and led every lap taking the checkered flag with four minutes to spare.
"It was pretty good because it was cold," Archer said. "Once I got a flow after the first lap it was good. Andrew Delong caught me, and we were going back and forth a couple times, it was really fun and the tracks rough! It was crazy, I hit a guy pretty hard in like 3rd gear on a straight away. He like cut across and we got tangled and I went over the bars, that one hurt a little bit, but I got up pretty quick and caught back up to Andrew."
Trail Jesters KTM Racing's Korie Steede raced a consistent second place after battling an illness to land on the podium.
Korie Steede said, "I got a good start. I rode behind Rachel that first lap. Honestly, I’m just happy to be out here, I’ve been fighting a virus for the last week and that was a brutal race. I had a prescription, had an allergic reaction and it kind of helped me and I’ve been in limbo but yeah, I’m just happy to be out here. Yeah man I thought it would be a little less hectic out there with the split race but that last lap was brutal, we were all bunched up and I really wasn’t making my decisions very quickly today so that was a struggle for sure."
Bonecutter's Prestin Raines claimed her fourth podium of the season for third, maintaining the position for the two hour race.
"It was good," Raines mentioned on the podium. "I didn’t have a good kind of first lap, just making too many mistakes being in my head too much about it but we finally got that cleared out. I think I crashed, and it all went away after that, so I guess that’s what I needed. I stayed consistent after that, super super rough but a really fun day that kind of went by pretty quick. I’m happy to end it with a 3rd and excited for 2024."
Ruby Fusitini is more than a noteworthy mention lining up for her first ever WXC race after wrapping up the Women's championship! Fustini took an honorable fourth place at Ironman, and even pressured a podium position in the beginning of the race! We're excited to see her in the mix for her first full WXC season in 2024.
Ashley Hendershot took another win in the WXC EMTB class after making big improvements throughout the season!
"I just wanted to keep it upright because like everyone else said it was super slick during pre-ride, but it ended up tacking up really nice, so I just tried to ride smooth and be safe and make it to the finish line."
GNCC newcomer Karine Belisle took second in the class with a consistent ride, and we hope to see her back for more next season!
"It was a great race. It was my first time at a GNCC, it was a fun track, and the girls are very fast."
Megan Barnes claimed her second WXC EMTB podium of the season for third.
"Today was really fun. I started really flowing with the track. It was looking pretty bad this morning, I was a little worried that this was going to be another one of those nasty dewy ones.
but the track turned out really good it was so fun. I had a couple little mistakes that kind of got me off pace, but it was fun. I had a couple really bad rounds at the start of the year, I was just glad to make it through this one smooth and clean and just have a good time."
Megan Davis wrapped up the Women's C Bike Championship and decided to try her hand in the Women's Bike class at the final round. Not only did she compete, but she also won the race! Tayler Bonecutter took second in class and Josephine Grissom third.
Alexis Keyes at only her second GNCC race of the season claimed the Women's ATV class win! Anna Nicely battled from fourth to second, and Maci Davenport came from sixth to take third in a stacked class.
One of our favorite mentions in this race report is the young legend, Avery Collins. Avery won the Schoolgirl Jr championship in 2022 and decided to compete with the boys in 2023. But not just in any class, in YXC2! Avery not only competed, but she also took four race wins, and wrapped up the 2023 YXC2 Championship at the final round! Collins has big goals ahead and we're excited to watch her progress each year.
After a solid season of podiums in the Girls 85 Bike class, Bailey Walker made another solid move at the final round trying out the Women's C Bike class and took the win by almost six minutes! Emma Robey took second, and Kyleigh Fridley third.
Carina Crump maintained the Women's C ATV class lead for the entire race to take the win. Alyssa Rodgers grabbed second after laps of back and forth with Katie Young who took third finishing just 16 seconds behind.
Zoey Kimble claimed her third win and second back to back win in the Supermini Girls Bike class. Jayden Shea took second in her second race of the season, and Jalee Coen grabbed her fourth podium of the year for third.
In the Schoolgirl Sr ATV class Madison Luckadoo took her second win of 2023. Ryleigh Dearing, a consistent podium finisher this year took second. Paisley Stout is one to watch for next year in this class! After wrapping up the Schoolgirl Jr ATV title, Paisley jumped in to the Senior class, winning Round 11 and taking third at Round 12.
The 2023 GNCC season may be over, but 2024 will be here before we know it. It's that time when these female athletes go home, go to work, and train their hearts out to make their statement next season. Don't tune out just yet, we'll be following along as Korie Steede, Rachel Gutish, and Brandy Richards head out to Argentina to race for Team USA in the International Six Days Enduro beginning November 6th and checking in with everyone else throughout the off season! Stay tuned on Instagram @Women.Of.Moto.