Somerset, Pa. -Charlie Mullins claimed his second win in a row and fourth of the year with an impressive runaway performance at the VP Racing Fuels Mountain Ridge GNCC in Somerset, Pennsylvania on Sunday.
After the start, the 11th round of the 2011 Can-Am Grand National Cross Series appeared to be a five-man affair as Mullins battled with his FMF/KTM teammate Kailub Russell, FMF/Makita Suzuki’s Josh Strang, WMR Racing/Clockwork/Planet Fitness KTM’s Nate Kanney and Am Pro Racing/FMF Yamaha’s Paul Whibley. However, heading into the second lap, Mullins, Russell and Strang made a break from the pack – with Russell holding the upper hand.
Near the halfway point of the race, Mullins took the lead from Russell and then later pulled a considerable gap when Russell took a hard fall in the rocks. After that, it was all Mullins, as the Ohio rider decided it was time to check out.
“Me, Kailub and Strang had our own little battle going,” said Mullins. “One of us would fall down and someone else would get the lead, and it was kind of like that for most of the day. But I kind of broke away during the next-to-last lap and I came through the barrels and looked back and I didn’t see anyone so I figured I had a good lead so I just dropped my head and was pushing pretty hard… I didn’t take any chances but I rode hard.”
Indeed, Mullins rode hard enough to extend his lead to nearly a minute and a half by the end of the race.
But while Mullins rode solo out front, a wild battle for second took place further back between Kanney, Strang (who was battling issues with his rear brakes) and Whibley. Kanney had managed to put himself in the runner-up position by the final lap, but gave way to Whibley a few turns from the finish when Whibley came barging through on the inside line in what he admitted later was a “forceful pass”. Kanney was having nothing of it and tried to retaliate heading into the turn leading into the finish, but the New York rider carried too much speed into the corner and slid into the banners, leaving Whibley a clear path to second and allowing Strang to slip by for third.
Kanney rebounded for fourth, while Russell limped in for fifth, still feeling the effects of his crash.
Eight-time National Enduro Champion Michael Lafferty rode a 250 two-stroke Husaberg to a sixth place finish, beating JG Off-road/GEICO Powersports Honda’s Rory Mead by nearly seven minutes.
Jedediah Haines was eighth on a Kawasaki, while XC2 competitor Jesse Robinson made the jump to the XC1 class to finish ninth on Chris Bach’s factory Beta, while Bach recovers from knee surgery.
In the meantime, Eric Bailey finished 10thon a Kawasaki.
With the win, Mullins extended his lead in the series standings to 17 points over Strang, while Whibley, who also won the $250 Motosport.com Holeshot Award to start the race, sits third in the standings another eight points back.
Obermeyer/Am-Pro/FMF/Yamaha’s Jordan Ashburn claimed his third win in a row in the XC2 class, edging Pennsylvania KTM rider Andrew DeLong by nearly three seconds.
FAR Husqvarna’s Jason Thomas, who led the race until hitting a stump in the grass, rounded out the podium in third.
New Hampshire KTM rider Jake Korn made his first GNCC of the year a memorable one with a fourth place finish, while series points leader Steward Baylor Jr. finished fifth, losing a bit of ground in the standings to Thomas and Ashburn.
Sixth place went to Yamaha rider Ryan Lojak, while Nick Davis (KTM), Morgan Moss (Hsq), AJ Stewart (Yam) and Steven Squire (Yam) rounded out the top 10.
WMR Racing/Clockwork/Planet Fitness KTM rider Christopher Douglas turned in an impressive race to claim the top “non-pro” honors with a solid 13th overall finish and first in the Open A division.
In the A.M. race, Randall Riggs took the overall win and first in the Masters A (50+) class on a Yamaha. Meanwhile, KTM’s Maria Forsberg finished second overall and wrapped up the Women’s title with her eighth class win of the year. Third overall went to KTM rider Dalton Cross, who also claimed the win in the 200 C Schoolboy (12-15) class.
In the Youth race, Levi Keller and Anthony Stone battled back and forth for the entire distance of the race with Keller getting the upper hand at the finish to claim his third overall victory of the year and fifth class win of the year in the Super Mini (14-15) division. Stone was second overall and second in the Super Mini (14-15), while third overall and first in the Super Mini (12-13) went to Austin Lee.
The 2011 Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series heads to St. Clairsville, Ohio for the ITP Powerline Park GNCC on October 8 & 9. ATV racing will take place on Saturday, followed by bike racing on Sunday. For more information, please visit www.gnccracing.com.
1. Charlie Mullins (KTM)
2. Paul Whibley (Yam)
3. Josh Strang (Suz)
4. Nate Kanney (KTM)
5. Kailub Russell (KTM)
6. Mike Lafferty (Hsb)
7. Rory Mead (Hon)
8. Jedediah Haines (Kaw)
9. Jesse Robinson (Bet)
10. Eric Bailey (Kaw)
1. Charlie Mullins (220/4 wins)
2. Josh Strang (203/2 wins)
3. Paul Whibley (195/3 wins)
4. Kailub Russell (150)
5. Nate Kanney (147)
6. Cory Buttrick (110)
7. Chris Bach (96)
8. Mike Lafferty (91)
9. Jimmy Jarrett (83)
10. Thad DuVall (75)
1. Jordan Ashburn (Yam)
2. Andrew DeLong (KTM)
3. Jason Thomas (Hsq)
4. Jake Korn (KTM)
5. Steward Baylor Jr. (KTM)
6. Ryan Lojak (Yam)
7. Nick Davis (KTM)
8. Morgan Moss (Hsq)
9. AJ Stewart (Yam)
10. Steven Squire (Yam)
1. Steward Baylor Jr. (213/4 wins)
2. Jason Thomas (184/1 win)
3. Andrew DeLong (177)
4. Jordan Ashburn (171)
5. Jesse Robinson (146)
6. Scotty Watkins (125)
7. Morgan Moss (98)
8. AJ Stewart (95)
9. Zachery Smith (91)
10. Brad Bakken (90)