Many new pro contenders have arrived in the 2006 Suzuki Grand National Country Series, but only two could win on the ultra rugged ski slopes of the Wisp Resort in Deep Creek, Maryland. The Wisp hosted a classic Killer B's battle as Yamaha's Bill Ballance and Honda's Chris Borich returned to the front of the pack. The dup bumped and banged for two hours, with Ballance finally pulling out a clutch win.
"This is the roughest track we race all year. It's like a toughman thing, it just beats you to death with these rocks," said Ballance, the six-time and defending GNCC Champion from Oakland, Kentucky. "It seems like any time we get hooked up, we take it down to the end. Me and Chris just went back and forth. I passed him on the third lap, and he got me in a sweeper. The last time I passed him, it was a bottleneck. I tried a new line and couldn't get too much traction, but the lapper moved up a foot and opened up a perfect line. I got the lead right there, and I tried to pull away, but he was right up to me. In that last open section I don't think I let off the gas even once. It was a heck of a battle."
Borich held the lead several times throughout the day. He gave it everything he had down the stretch, but came up just short.
"It was a lot of fun just battling all day," said Borich. "I wanted it pretty bad. On the last lap we hit a bottleneck and Bill but by. He put a good 20 seconds on me and I put my head down and caught up to him. Around the ten-mile marker I touched the front brake a little bit and fell down. I thought I lost him. I got up to him again and tried to dive inside in some of these last fields, but I couldn't get in like I wanted to. I know I can trust him, so we can just go all out!"
Early in the race, Ballance and Borich had to fight with GT Thunder's Chris Jenks. The Washington, West Virginia rider was in podium position until a broken suspension component ended his day. The door then opened to a big battle between a four-man pack, and Yoshimura Suzuki's William Yokley won it on his LT-R450.
"I was pretty far back at the end of the third lap," said Yokley. "I never gave up and just tried to pick them off one at a time. I got around Johnson, and me and Chris Bithell were battling pretty hard for the whole lap My tire was just grinding his nerf bar in one fast section. We were banging bars! My elbows are a little rusty, but I can still stick them out when I have to. It was fun."
Fourth went to Bithell, who rode an amazing race after tangling with Polaris' Matt Smiley early and starting way, way back. Running laps at times faster than even the leaders, he nearly pulled off a podium finish.
"It would have been good to get another podium," said Bithell. "But I'm happy with it considering how far back I was."
Fifth went to Duane "The Rock" Johnson in another solid ride. Bryan Cook, Brandon Balance, Santo DeRisi, Adam McGill and Michael Houston rounded out the top ten.
The Outdoor Life Network crew taped all of the Wisp action for the Racer TV Series on OLN. Races air every Saturday and Wednesday at 3 pm.
The Suzuki GNCC Series now begins its annual summer break. Racing continues in two months at the Yadkin Valley Stomp GNCC in Yadkinville, NC.
The AMA-sanctioned Suzuki 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 1800 riders through tracks ranging from eight to twelve miles in length. 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 Parts Unlimited, Moose, Maxxis, Pirelli, Wiseco, Klotz, FMF, ITP and Tire Balls, and riders compete for over $3 million in series prizes and contingency money. Associate sponsors include Moose Utility Division, Scott, Acerbis, Alpinestars, Cometic, Outerwears, Twin Air, Polisport Plastics, Thor, Motion Pro, Hyper Wheels, Elka Suspension, MotoTee's, Weekend Warrior, Owens Motorsports, Tom's Marina Polaris, EK Chain and Laeger's. Media Sponsors include Dirt Rider Magazine, ATV Sport Magazine, www.ATVRiders.com and Racer X Illustrated. For more information log on to www.GNCCRacing.com.
Results: Suzuki Grand National Cross Country Series - Round 9Parts Unlimited Wisp GNCC
June 25, 2006
1. Bill V Ballance Oakland, KY YAM 02:08:33
2. Chris M Borich Sunbury, PA HON 02:08:37
3. William Yokley Tompkinsville, KY SUZ 02:10:23
4. Chris Bithell Irwin, PA HON 02:10:26
5. Duane Johnson Trenton, MO HON 02:10:29
6. Bryan Cook Casar, NC HON 02:11:35
7. Brandon Ballance Oakland, KY YAM 02:12:14
8. Santo Derisi Casar, NC HON 02:13:43
9. Adam McGill West Union, WV HON 02:14:42
10. Michael Houston Hickory, NC HON 02:14:49
11. Bryan Baker Knob Noster, MO HON 02:14:52
12. Todd Demaree Varsailles, IN HON 02:14:54
13. Ryan Morphew Cookeville, TN HON 02:14:58
14. Craig Reed Crawford, TN HON 02:15:18
15. Matt J Smiley Kunkletown, PA POL 02:15:57
16. Tyler Lenig Shamokin, PA HON 02:16:11
17. James Wahl Shillington, PA HON 02:16:20
18. Jarrod McClure Kaska, PA HON 02:16:41
19. Taylor Kiser Alva, FL YAM 02:17:02
20. Kyle Martin Winona, MO HON 02:17:06
Suzuki GNCC Points Standings (After 9 of 13 rounds)
1. Bill Ballance 226/4 wins
2. Chris Borich 210/2 wins
3. Chris Jenks 166/2 wins
4. William Yokley 146
5. Duane Johnson 142
6. Chris Bithell 120
7. Michael Houston 90/1 win
8. Adam McGill 79
9. Brandon Ballance 78
10. Bryan Baker 75