Mullins Gets His First GNCC win at the Wiseco John

Mullins Gets His First GNCC win at the Wiseco John

Hawk, Jarrett on the podium, Knight fourth

Millfield, OH ? With perhaps more natural speed and talent than anyone in the Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series, it seemed almost inevitable that Am-Pro Yamaha?s Charlie Mullins would get his first GNCC win sooner rather than later. The inevitable finally happened at the Wiseco John Penton GNCC in his home state of Ohio, and it happened in dominant fashion. Mullins, 21, led the race from start to finish, a rare feat in the ultra-competitive GNCC series.

            “It hasn?t quite sunk in yet, but it feels good so far,” said Mullins. “Today, this is how it usually goes for me at any other race I do besides a GNCC. I got the holeshot, I rode my pace, and I didn?t really feel pressured or anything. I saw Barry (Hawk), he was right behind me for the first few laps, but I don?t know, I just kept my head down and stayed mistake free and didn?t get tangled with any lappers or anything.”

            The breakthrough win was a popular one, as Mullins, the fifth different winner in six GNCC races this season, got huge cheers all day from the partisan home fans. “It feels good to win with all of my friends and family here,” said Mullins. “It means a lot to me and hopefully it means a lot to them.”

            A tight track in the woods and dust in the fields kept passing at a minimum at this race. Mullins snared the Racer X Holeshot award and kept the lead from a charging Hawk through the opening stages on the Sunday Creek motocross track. He wouldn?t be headed from there, as Hawk charged all day but was forced to take second.

             “Today we got a good start and went into the woods second, and I just couldn?t make up that extra 20 seconds or so on Mullins,” said Hawk. “Hats off to him, he beat me today straight up, and he didn?t make any mistakes. I made one mistake on the third lap, and I couldn?t make it up. He rode good.”

            While the Yamaha?s raged up front, fans waited for another come-from-behind charge from Red Bull KTM?s David Knight , the World Enduro Champion who had won the last two GNCC rounds. Knight suffered another mid-pack start, and then crashed on the motocross track after a run-in with Cycle Hutt/Fun Mart Yamaha?s Shane Watts. Watts would drop way back while fighting an illness that left him drained of energy. Knight mounted a big comeback, but it stalled, however, when his bike kept doing the same thing. “It was cutting out on me,” said Knight, as the ignition coil came loose on his 450XC. “I lost the electric starter, so I knew something was wrong early on.”

            Knight was still able to get into the top five, and then caught and passed FMF/Suzuki?s Jimmy Jarrett on the last lap to get into third. But the bike cut out over a set of whoops, and the Isle of Man native nearly went flying over the bars. He came down hard enough to bend his front wheel.

            “I had third all day long,” said Jarrett, also an Ohio native. “On the last lap Knight caught me, and I thought “Oh no, this is going to be bad.” On the last lap a lapper got in my way and he got by me. Then I fell down right away, and I figured he was gone. But I thought, “You know what, I?m not going to give up that easy.” So I made a charge. I ended up catching him in the tight stuff. I didn?t know what was going on, but I saw he had bent a wheel. I got him back. I gave it all I had today.”

            Knight was lucky to hang on four fourth after losing several spokes in his wobbling front wheel. “It was hard to keep it in the ruts, and it was wobbling in the fields,” said Knight. “But I figured if I?ve come this far I might as well kill myself trying to finish it off, so I was still trying to get Jarrett. When I bent the wheel, I didn?t even crash, I just got it all the way up on the front, and my feet were off the pegs up in the air. It was a good save.”

            Mullins victory launches him into the points lead in the Can-Am GNCC Series for the first time in his career, as he holds a four-point edge over Knight.

            FMF/Suzuki?s Josh Strang?an Australian?hung on for a career-high fifth overall. Behind him, a huge battle broke out for sixth, and Parts Unlimited/Moose Honda?s Paul Whibley took it over FMF/Suzuki?s Glenn Kearney, Red Bull KTM?s Robbie Jenks, and Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki?s Jesse Robinson. Tenth overall went to the winner of the XC2 Lites class, Red Bull KTM?s Justin Williamson. FMF/Suzuki?s Rodney Smith and KTM/Powersport GrafX?s Dustin Gibson were second and third.

             “This is biggest Mother?s Day present I can give my mom, who passed away four years ago,” said Williamson. “I had to really press hard to make the pass. It was so tight and there were so few passing zones, that it was really difficult. Finally Dustin made a mistake and I got by. I want to thank Rodney for having a good battle. We were coming down these fire roads banging bars, we were locked side by side. He still got ahead of me, but just after that, he was pressing hard to stay away from me, and he swapped side to side and went down. He went over the bars, and I stopped to make sure he was okay, and I saw he was getting back on his bike, so I figured that meant he was okay! And I he was, he kept it close all the way to the motocross track.”

            Gibson stayed in the hunt with tremendous speed through “The Penton Section,” an ultra-tight, four-mile stretch of single track that most of the riders loved. “I wasn?t going very fast in the fast stuff,” said Gibson. “I just tried to stay close to Rodney there and then attack in the slow stuff, because I was making up my time in that Penton Section. I was bouncing off of trees and going as fast as I could.”

            All totaled, 1313 different riders competed in the Wiseco John Penton GNCC, hosted by the Sunday Creek Raceway motocross track.

            The 2007 Can-Am GNCC series continues in four weeks with round seven of 13, the Spartan GNCC in Sparta, Kentucky, on June 9 and 10.


Photos by David Scearce

About GNCC Racing:

The AMA/ATVA-sanctioned Can-Am Grand National Cross Country series is America?s premier off-road racing series. The 13-round series is produced exclusively by Racer Productions. Cross-country racing is one of the most physically demanding sports in the world. The nearly three-hour long GNCC races lead as many as 1,800 riders through tracks ranging from eight to twelve miles in length. GNCC Racing airs weekly television shows on Versus (formerly Outdoor Life Network) every Saturday at 3 p.m. and Thursday at 4 p.m. beginning on April 14. With varied terrain including hills, woods, mud, dirt, rocks and motocross sections, GNCC events are tests of both survival and speed. GNCC featured sponsors include BRP Can-Am, Parts Unlimited, Moose, Maxxis, Pirelli, Wiseco, Acerbis, Elka, Geico, Klotz, FMF, ITP and Weekend Warrior, and riders compete for over $3 million in series prizes and contingency money. Associate sponsors include Alpinestars, Cometic, EK Chain, HiPer Technology, Laegers, Moose Utility Division, The National Guard, Powersport Grafx, Race Tools, REM, Scott, Thor, Tire Balls, Twin Air, and MotoTee?s.


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