Bill Ballance claims his sixth...
Bill Ballance claims his sixth GNCC number one plate.
Bill Ballance faced his toughest challenge ever trying to win his sixth-straight Suzuki Grand National Cross Country title, but he showed his true championship heart by getting it done when it counted. With a gritty third-place finish at the Power Line Park GNCC, fed the factory Yamaha officially clinched the 2005 GNCC Title.
"Of all of the titles, this was definitely the toughest," said Ballance, who rides a YFZ450. "It just keeps getting harder, the pace is so much faster than it was five years ago because everyone is stepping up. And this year, starting the year with torn ligaments in my knee and then breaking my leg and crushing my ankle, I was really worried it was all slipping away."
Instead, the title slipped away from Alba Actionsport's Honda rider Chris Borich, who started the season with back-to-back wins and held the points lead. Only a few small mistakes cost Borich from taking it to the wire. "I guess it just wasn't my year," said Borich after leading wire-to-wire to notch his fourth win. "I had some problems in the mud races, but I think I finally figured it out. I needed to slow down and go faster and have the fans point out the right lines. This year I knew I had the speed - but when luck is on your side it's good, and when it's not, it's not. I'm just getting ready for next year."
Yoshimura Suzuki's William Yokley charged hard all day and took second. "Man it's awesome having those fans out there, they just keep you going and make you push a little harder," said Yokley. "It's awesome to get back up here after a couple of bad races."
Alba Actionsport's Chris Borich...
Alba Actionsport's Chris Borich conquered the mud to take his fourth win of the season.
Mud was a big factor as rain all weekend left the track super-slick. Ballance grabbed the holeshot, but Borich quickly knifed underneath him, took the lead and was gone. Borich struggled in the mud all year but showed major improvement with a smooth fast pace. Yokley and Ballance battled with Polaris' Matt Smiley and Four-Stroke Tech's Chris Jenks, who ultimately finished fourth and fifth.
John Natalie, the 2005 Moose ITP ATVA GNC MX Champion raced at Power Line Park as a guest of Borich's team, and finished an impressive eighth overall. "Man it was a blast," said Natalie. "I'm a racer and I want to win. That's my goal. I'm going to the Ironman."
The Ironman is the season-finale in two weeks. Ballance wants a win there, as his recovery from a broken leg and ankle is going well. "I think I'll be ready. Today the track was slick but it didn't get too rough, and I was able to run with these guys. It made me feel good! I think with a few more weeks to heal I'll be ready to go for the win."
The Power Line Park GNCC was taped for an airing on the Outdoor Life Network. The series resumes on television on October 18, and the GNCC races air Tuesdays at 5 p.m., Thursdays at 11 a.m. and Saturdays at 2 p.m. EST.
The ATVA-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 1500 riders through tracks ranging from eight to twelve miles in length. With varied terrain including hills, 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 and ITP, and riders compete for over $1.5 million in series prizes and contingency money. Associate sponsors include Moose Utility Division, Scott, Alpinestars, hlins, Cometic, Outerwears, Race Tools, Twin Air, SFB Racing, Thor, Motion Pro, MotoTee's, Warrior and Laeger's. Media Sponsors include Dirt Rider Magazine, ATV Sport Magazine and Racer X Illustrated. For more information log on to GNCCRacing.com.
Overall Results - Power Line Park GNCC
St. Clairsville, OH
Chris Borich (Hon)
William Yokley (Suz)
Bill Ballance (Yam)
Matt Smiley (Pol)
Chris Jenks (Hon)
Johnny Gallagher (Hon)
Bryan Baker (Hon)
John Natalie (Hon)
Jeremy Rice (Hon)
Chad DuVall (Yam)
Suzuki GNCC Points Standings (After 12 of 13 rounds)
Bill Ballance 283
Chris Borich 233
William Yokley 203
Chris Jenks 184
Matt Smiley 164