Snowshoe, W. Va (June 26, 2011) - FMF/Makita Suzuki's Josh Strang claimed the $5,000 top prize at this year's Motosport.com Snowshoe GNCC by taking a narrow victory over WMR Off-road/Clockwork/FMF/Planet Fitness KTM's Nate Kanney after an exciting, race-long battle in what turned out to be an extremely difficult event.
Snowshoe GNCC is considered "America's Toughest Race" and this year was tougher than usual after scattered showers turned the rooted and rocky mountain course into an extremely treacherous one. And due to the many mud holes and slippery climbs found along the trail, several riders held the lead at one point or another, as one rider would lead only to get stuck or fall and hand the spot over to someone else. In all, Am Pro Yamaha's Paul Whibley, FMF/KTM Charlie Mullins, JG Racing/GEICO Powersports Honda's Rory Mead, Am Pro Yamaha's Thad DuVall and KTM rider Stu Baylor, along with Strang and Kanney, all held the lead somewhere during the three-hour race.
Heading into the fifth and final lap, the lead group consisted of Baylor, Mullins, Strang, and Kanney, however, Mullins and Baylor got stuck part way into the lap, leaving Kanney with the lead and Strang in second.
Near the end of the final lap, Strang got by Kanney in a mud hole and managed to stay out of trouble for the rest of the race. At the finish, Strang edged Kanney by just two seconds to take the win.
"I was just hoping to finish up front and I was happy to follow Nate, he's had some good rides here the last few years," said Strang. "If I could have followed him over the line I would have been happy, so to get in front of him there at the end and get the win was fantastic."
Kanney, who was the 2010 Snowshoe winner, was hoping to capitalize on a late mistake by Strang, but the opportunity never presented itself.
"On the last lap, I knew Strang was there and I knew he was going to be strong and I didn't really want to be leading at that point - it's not necessarily good to be leading here on the last lap," said Kanney. "So I thought if Strang passed me I was going to let him have it let him take all the risk. After he went around me we put the hammer down and we got through everything clean. He got really close to getting stuck in one place but he didn't, and after that I never had a chance to catch him."
With the win, Strang extended his lead in the 2011 Can-Am Grand National Cross Series to 11 points over Mullins, who ended the day in third.
"It was pretty challenging out there and I made a mistake on the next-to-last lap and lost a lot of time," said Mullins. "I was able to charge back and catch Baylor, but by then Nate and Josh were gone. I'm pretty disappointed but I think this is the best I've ever ridden here, so I feel good about that."
Fourth in the XC1 division went to Mead, a New Zealand native who just recently moved to the States to give the GNCC series a try. Meanwhile, fifth went to fellow Kiwi Paul Whibley, who threw his chain several times over the course of the race.
FMF/KTM's Kailub Russell ran with the lead pack early, but eventually finished sixth ahead of factory Husaberg rider Nick Fahringer.
Cory Buttrick put his FMF/KTM into eighth, ahead DuVall and KTM rider Kenny Gilbert.