Morgantown, W.Va. (February 25, 2010) - The opening round of the Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series, America's largest off-road racing series, is just days away and riders around the country are revving their engines as they make the long drive to the Parts Unlimited River Ranch GNCC in Lake Wales, Florida. ATVs will race on Sunday, February 28th.
The biggest surprise of the upcoming season is the new GNCC Champion Chris Borich, who after a phenomenal 2009 season broke the nine-year championship winning streak of Yamaha's Bill Ballance. Despite 10 wins and 100 point margin over his nearest competitor, Taylor Kiser, Borich wasn't offered a full factory ride with Suzuki due to budget constraints. Now back to his own program with some Suzuki support, he will return on his familiar yellow machine looking to repeat on his 2009 success. Word is that the Pennsylvania rider has spent months in Florida to train and prepare for the opener.
Last year at the opening round, Ballance had just begun to recover from surgery just a few weeks prior to remove a cancerous mass from his ribs. Ballance still raced, but it was Alva, Florida native Taylor Kiser who would go on to take the win, with Borich in second. Kiser continued on to complete a strong seaso, collecting the "most improved rider" award at the GNCC banquet. This winter, he and Ballance tested and trained together on their Yamaha's in hopes of challenging Borich this season.
The opening round will gauge which top pros have been staying in shape during the off-season. Ballance, who at first said he would hang it up after 2009, will return in perfect health. Fellow Yamaha rider Brandon Sommers, who finished fifth in the XC1 class last year, may not be able to race the first round of the season. Sommers recently found out he has a case of mono that may have come about after surgery for the broken leg he sustained at the Ironman GNCC in October.
West Virginia native Adam McGill, who finished third in the points in 2009, will switch teams this season with a move to Warnert Can-Am on the DS450. McGill spent most of 2009 on the podium, but a few midseason mechanical problems took him out of the running for the championship. He joins Chris Bithell on the Can-Am Team. New to the FRE KTM team is former privateer Bryan Cook, who had a solid season in 2009 with a win at Steel Creek and had several top 5 finishes.
Veteran Johnny Gallagher will also be in the hunt, as well as National Guard Polaris' new recruit, Jarod McClure.
In the XC2 class, FRE KTM's Josh Kirkland will return to battle against Brian Wolf and Parker Jones, as well as Yamaha's Walker Fowler, who won a A-class title last year and has been training with Ballance and Kiser. In the Women's class FRE KTM's Angel Atwell will defend her championship win against biggest competitor, multi-time champion Traci Cecco. The Florida race also kicks off battles for Utility Championships in four different classes.
The event will begin on Saturday, February 27, with practice for the four-wheeled ATV racers, and the ATVs will race on Sunday, February 28. The amateur racer entry fee is $40.
Spectator passes run $15 for Saturday and Sunday tickets, and $15 for a Monday and Tuesday ticket. Children five and under are admitted free. On both Sunday and Tuesday, youth riders race at 8 a.m., beginner riders race at 10 a.m., and the top amateurs and the pros race at 1 p.m.
On Monday, Parts Unlimited will be on site for the first meal of their 2010 Dinner Tour. The Parts Unlimited Dinner will start at 5 p.m.
The event runs as part of the massive Daytona Bike Week scene, which includes competitions throughout Florida in a variety of motorcycle and ATV disciplines.
The Westgate River Ranch offers a variety of activities beyond the race, including horse back riding, fishing and hiking. Information is available at www.wgriverranch.com.
The track is located at the Westgate River Ranch in Lake Wales, Fl. From U.S. 27, go south to S.R. 60 (Lake Wales Exit), make a left and head east for approximately 25 miles. River Ranch is on the right.
About GNCC Racing
The Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series is America's premier off-road racing series. Founded in 1979, the 13-round championship is produced exclusively by Racer Productions. Cross country racing is one of the most physically demanding sports in the world. The grueling three-hour GNCC races lead as many as 1,800 riders through tracks ranging in length from eight to 12 miles, competing for more than $3 million in prizes. With varied terrain, including hills, woods, mud, dirt, rocks and motocross sections, GNCC events are tests of both survival and speed. Weekly Television coverage begins each Sunday on Versus starting April 25. For more information, please visit www.gnccracing.com.