Morgantown, W. Va. – The Motosport.com Snowshoe GNCC marks the halfway point in the 2012 Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series as Round 8 of the 13-race tour heads to eastern West Virginia this weekend. The two-way championship battle continues to tighten between current XC1 points leader Paul Whibley and young gun Kailub Russell. With only five points separating first and second place, this weekend’s Snowshoe GNCC has the potential to stir up the points lead once again. But that’s not the only thing to keep an eye out for; there are several wildcard riders that could land a win in the rocky hills of Snowshoe Mountain.

AmPro Yamaha’s Paul Whibley will wear the coveted white background with red numbers aboard his YZF450, indicating he has the points lead for Round 8 this weekend. Whibley solely gained the points lead from Factory FMF/KTM’s Kailub Russell as the two entered Round 7 tied for points and Whibley’s victory gave him a slight edge coming into one of the toughest courses on the circuit.

The Snowshoe course is known for its deep mud bogs, massive tree roots and near-vertical hill climbs, usually throwing an additional element to the already demanding three-hour race. WMR/KTM’s Rory Mead typically excels in technical terrain like Snowshoe. In fact, Mead held the overall lead on time adjustment from the XC2 class in 2011, giving him a confidence boost heading into this weekend’s race. Mead currently holds the fourth place spot in the point standings, only three points behind Factory FMF KTM’s Charlie Mullins.

Park City, Ky. (April 30, 2012) – New Zealand’s Rory Mead (right) came into round five of the Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series as a silent sleeper, especially since he’s shown the ability to conquer courses with a heavy technical aspect. The Can-Am Mammoth GNCC pumped up the potential to throw some curve balls into the overall points race with a unique “old school” GNCC course that accompanied some of the most grueling obstacles this circuit has seen in a long time. Trail Boss Jeff Russell and his crew cut around 10 miles of fresh trail at the all-new Park Mammoth Resort in Park City, Kentucky and it was anyone’s game on the overall win, especially from the XC1 Pro division.

WMR/KTM’s Rory Mead got out front right away after following fellow kiwi Paul Whibley on the first lap. Whibley once again grabbed the $250 Motosport.com Holeshot Award aboard his AmPro Yamaha YZF450 and battled with Mead early on, but it wasn’t long before defending champ Charlie Mullins made his way through the pack from a bad start. Whibley and Factory FMF/KTM’s Mullins went back and fourth throughout the three-hour race, battling hard for the second place position. At times, the veteran duo would catch up to the leader and then Mead used the KTM 300 two-stroke to his advantage as he gained time in the tight rocky sections of the course. Mead’s win at The Mammoth marked the first overall win on a two-stroke since Nate Kanney’s performance at the 2008 Ironman. This was a big feat both for Mead and his two-stroke machine.

Union, S.C. (April 16, 2012) – It’s no longer a matter of earning stripes for Factory FMF/KTM’s Kailub Russell, who locked down his third consecutive XC1 Pro class victory at Sunday’s VP Racing Fuels Big Buck GNCC, one of the most rugged stops on the 13-race circuit. Russell has already proven he’s got what it takes to hang with former GNCC champs Charlie Mullins (2011) and Paul Whibley (2010); but after growing up through the GNCC youth ranks, the 22-year-old is quickly becoming the rider to beat in the 2012 Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series.

Whibley once again grabbed the $250 Motosport.com Holeshot Award on his AmPro Yamaha YZF450, but it was Russell who set the early pace on his KTM 350, as he led the avenging duo of Whibley and Mullins who haven’t been able to beat Russell since Whibley took the opening round in Florida over a month ago.

Russell put a sizeable gap between himself and the Mullins/Whibley battle about midway through the three-hour race and he especially turned it up as the two-lap card fell. And that’s when the major twists started to take place for Mullins and Whibley, as they took turns getting stuck in the mud hole on the final two laps. Russell capitalized on their mistakes to extend his lead even more, as he seemed to have ridden a nearly flawless race through the rough and tumble South Carolina obstacles.