Paul Whibley Takes First Win in a Wide Open Can-Am
Edmisten becomes series points leader
The surprises at the front of the pack were matched with troubles for pre-season GNCC title favorites. World Enduro Champion David Knight pulled off of the track due to pain in his hand, which he broke a few weeks ago. He?ll try to rehab and be back for round three in two weeks. Multi-time GNCC Champion Barry Hawk ran out of gas and could only muster 28th trying to come back. The opening round winner, KTMHutt/Fun Mart Cycles? Shane Watts, charged to the front early but lost his rear brakes, and could only muster ninth overall after stopping for repairs and then losing his brakes again. And Am-Pro Yamaha?s Charlie Mullins said he had a horrible day, crashing early and smashing his pinky finger, and then fighting some set-up issues while holding on for fifth overall.
Whibley pulled a big gap on his way to victory, a surprise for a rider who had yet to take a GNCC podium finish.
Edmisten is an even bigger surprise. The KX450F-mounted rider has help from a local company, Walpole Trucking, and suddenly finds himself with the lead in America?s largest off-road racing series.
“I knew in Florida I would get a podium, because that?s my home town and I have been training hard,” said Edmisten. “But I thought I could get a top five here. I was top five on the first lap, so I knew it would be a good day. Me and Jenks rode together for the first few laps, and then he got away. Then Whibley came by me on the gas, and I couldn?t stay with him. Then toward the end there I came up on (Glenn) Kearney, I got around him and thought I would get third. Then I came up on Jenks, and here I am in second.”
Jenks was happy to avenge a rough ride at the series opener in Florida. “I had a terrible ride last week,” said Jenks. “I had to redeem myself here, or I think Antti was going to put me out back of the KTM rig. I got a decent start and I was content because I could see the leaders. I just tried to loosen up. Garrett and I were together pretty much all day, and next thing you know, we were in the top three. We pushed each other to the front.”
The new XC2 Pro Lites class nearly made the overall podium. Red Bull KTM?s Kurt Caselli won the class again and finished fourth overall on his 250 XC-F. “I got the holeshot again, and then I got in the woods and I had no idea what was going on,” said Caselli, “I don?t ride in the trees!”
Caselli swept the first two rounds of XC2 Lites racing, but he?s heading back to California to focus on racing out west. This opens the door to the full-time GNCC riders, like 17-year-old Am Pro Yamaha rider Thad DuVall, who chased Caselli all day on way to a second-place finish. Caselli grabbed the Thumpertalk.com XC2 holeshot award, but DuVall challenged him hard. “We were really battling hard out there, which was fun,” said DuVall. “I got into the lead a few times, but I got pretty tired down at the end. We?re going to go home and work on that. I?m just happy to be up here.”
FMF Suzuki?s five-time GNCC Champion Rodney Smith was third in the XC2 class. “I?m just a part-time rider now, and I thank Suzuki for letting me come out and do this and help develop the RM-Z250,” said Smith. “I get to ride with the younger riders, and it?s pretty neat.”
While Whibley took the lead and never looked back, Edmisten and Jenks battled together to get Kearney and then settle the podium order between them. “Last year was a bit of a learning experience for me,” said Edmisten. “I went and had some knee surgery, and I trained hard and got ready. The last few laps I was feeling pretty fatigued, but when I came up on Jenks, I pushed, and right as I made the pass I felt my leg cramp up. I said “This is it, I better go.” So I did and held on to the finish. It probably won?t sink in for a few days, but it feels good. I want to make it last as long as I can.”
The Can-Am GNCC Series continues in two weeks with the FMF Steele Creek GNCC in Morganton, North Carolina. For more information, check out www.gnccracing.com.
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, Motion Pro, Moose Utility Division, Powersport Grafx, Pro Clean, Race Tools, REM, Scott, Thor, Tire Balls, Twin Air, Weekend Warrior, and MotoTee?s. Media Sponsors include Racer X Illustrated, ATV Rider, ATV Sport, ATVRiders.com, Dirt Rider and ATV Insider. For more information log on to www.GNCCRacing.com.
Photos by David Scearce: [email protected]