In the first GNCC of the year, Team Yamaha’s Barry Hawk (racing for the Randy Hawkins team) fought his way through the mud infested swamps of Florida to take the opening round in what is shaping up to be a tremendous series. After posting strong finishes towards the latter part of the 2002 season, Hawk started where he left off by riding smart. In a sense, Hawk tiptoed through the waters of the washed out circuit to take the win after Russ Pearson threw away the victory by riding on the edge and crashing. According to a phone interview we did with Randy Hawkins, Pearson was the fastest man on the track and actually swept past Rodney, Jimmy Jarrett, Hawk and Hawkins before running afoul and crashing out of contention. Hawkins said that the event was pure survival and mirrored the old Blackwater events. ‘Many times I’d come up to section with stuck riders and I just waited for someone else to come along. If they got through it, I followed. It was nasty and you had to be really lucky just to get around the course without sticking it’.

Meanwhile, Team Suzuki had nothing but drama at the GNCC opener. Rodney Smith gated well and was in the lead pack ( KTM’s Michael Lafferty and Kawasaki’s Fred Andrews in tow) when they picked up the ribbon that was left unpulled from the mornings Industry race.

Rodney, and Junior took the wrong way, while Andrews led a contingent on the correct circuit. Rodney and Junior lost about 40-50 seconds and this put them well back in the pack. Defending champion Rodney Smith only finishing four laps (and 14th overall) after sticking it in a mudhole and then running out of fuel. Andrews luck was no better as both he and Lafferty stuck themselves in mudholes and failed to finish the event.

Randy Hawkins said that he was right behind Andrews when he drowned out and that both he and Jason Raines walked their machines through the holes in search of good purchase. Suzuki’s Mike Kiedrowski got taken out on the start by Kurt Casselli, fought his way back only to crash hard. His teammate Steve Hatch was a front runner for the first three laps, then he ran out of gas. All of the Yamaha boys pitted after two laps.

In fact, Yamaha was the only factory team to have all their riders finish the race, with Hawk, Robbie Jenks, and newly healed Jason Raines taking the third spot in Florida. All of the Hawkins based Yamaha riders opted to race their practice bikes since they knew their bikes would be cooked following the event. Randy said they’d have to bury their machines they were so wasted, and with the Alligator Enduro coming up and the Georgia GNCC on Sunday, there was no way that they had enough parts in their Semi to keep just one bike going.

To add insult to injury, nine Yamaha bikes graced the top ten (with Doug Blackwell breaking up the sweep on his Honda). Right now the event is under protest from Suzuki and KTM. Rumors have it that they will add one throw away to the series. Stay tuned to find out what happens this weekend when the series heads north to Washington, Georgia for round two of the GNCC series. By the way, the rain has been pounding that area really hard for over a week.

1. Barry Hawk – Yam
2. Robbie Jenks ? Yam
3. Jason Raines ? Yam
4. Randy Hawkins ? Yam
5. William Gilleland ? Yam
6. Jim Jarrett ? Yam
7. Doug Blackwell ? Hon
8. Russ Pearson ? Yam
9. David Lykke ? Yam
10. Josh Mclevy ? Yam


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