SNOWSHOE, W. Va. – Heavy rainfall consumed West Virginia’s Snowshoe Mountain the week leading up to Round 9 of the AMSOIL Grand National Cross Country Series, but the wet racing conditions only lent a hand in paying homage to the series’ predecessor-The Blackwater 100-which offered up some of the most grueling terrain in cross-country racing. Walker Fowler conquered Saturday’s rough and tumble AMSOIL Snowshoe GNCC racecourse, besting points leader Chris Borich and the rest of the XC1 field by over two minutes.
The Snowshoe GNCC showcased a Blackwater-style concrete start, sending waves of five riders per row in increments of 10-15 seconds through the downtown village of Snowshoe Resort. AmPro Yamaha’s Walker Fowler jumped out to the front on the opening lap and the Ohio native didn’t seem to look back from there. Borich had a small slip-up on the opening lap but the defending champion managed to put his Maxxis-backed Suzuki into the second place position early on where he set his sights on the leader Fowler right away.
BNR’s Kevin Yoho, who started on the front row alongside Fowler, Borich, Chris Bithell and Adam McGill-grabbed the third place position on the opening lap, where he chased Borich and Fowler for much of the race. It didn’t take long for Round 8 winner McGill to inject his Lonestar Racing/Precision/ITP machine into the podium battle. McGill eventually passed Yoho for third but after a quick pit stop by both riders, Yoho put himself back into the third place position as the two diced it out.
Reliable Tool Supply/Maxxis’ Chris Bithell didn’t get off to the best start, but the Pennsylvania native eventually caught McGill and Yoho halfway through the seven-lap race. From there, the trio went head-to-head for the final position atop the podium.
“It was survival out there,” Bithell commented. “I got stuck on the first lap but I found my second wind in the middle of the race. I passed McGill for third when he was stuck in the rocks,” Bithell added.
While Borich was making up lost time on Fowler toward the end of the two-hour race, it wasn’t enough to contest the win at Round 9. Fowler went on to secure his second victory of the season, giving him a big confidence boost heading into the summer break.
“I came into this race thinking that I want to do whatever it takes to win, even if it meant riding outside of my comfort zone in these conditions,” Fowler said. “I’m tired of the bad races and my own excuses. I’ve been training super hard, putting in more effort than I ever have and figured I would make a statement heading into summer break.”
Borich grabbed second overall, finishing over two minutes behind Fowler. Borich continued to hold the points lead with a total of six wins for the season heading into the summer break.
“I kind of knew it was going to be a terrible race judging by the typical Snowshoe conditions,” Borich said. “I was taking it easy and once it started pouring [rain], I decided to back it way down and just make it to the finish. It was a good valuable day of points.”
Yoho and McGill battled back and forth throughout the second half of the race, but in the end it was Yoho who maintained the fourth place position. McGill rounded out the top five overall in his home state of West Virginia.
Waynesburg Yamaha/GT Thunder’s Jeff Pickens put in a solid ride to secure sixth place, while HMF/GBC/Yamaha’s Johnny Gallagher came in seventh. Waynesburg Yamaha’s Gabe Phillips finished eighth, while Greg’s ATV and Cycle’s Matt Hanna and Team Woodhead/DeRisi Racing’s Braden Henthorn rounded out the top ten.
In the XC2 Pro Am division, current points leader Brycen Neal went on to secure his sixth victory of the season. Neal got out front early on and never looked back as he led all seven laps of the afternoon. Indiana’s Fred Marley secured his fourth consecutive podium finish in the class after capturing second place for the day. Marley holds second place overall in the championship standings heading into the summer break. Defending XC2 champ Patrick McGuire rounded out the podium at Snowshoe with a third place finish, giving him third place in the standings. Round 8 winner Landon Wolfe ended his day early with mechanical issues.
Pennsylvania’s Jay Shadron put in an impressive ride, finishing sixth overall for the day to capture the Top Amateur Award in addition to the College A class victory. Shadron was especially impressive in finishing higher than any XC2 Pro Am rider in the overall results.
It was a 4×4 sweep on the 10 a.m. overall podium as BNR’s Robert Smith captured his first career overall win, followed by fellow U2 rider and Team UXC Racing’s Michael Swift in second. Pennsylvania’s Rick Cecco rounded out the overall podium in third. GT Thunder’s Dave Simmons took the win in Super Senior (45+), where he finished as the highest placing non-utility ATV in the morning race.
The 2013 AMSOIL Grand National Cross Country Series now heads into a summer break, resuming on September 7 and 8 with the Can-Am Unadilla GNCC. For more information on the series, visit www.gnccracing.com.