The MotorcycleUSA.com Snowshoe GNCC, round nine of the Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series, yielded big surprises for some and heartbreak for others, as David Knight returned to the podium with a dominant win on his privateer Kawasaki KX450F on June 28, followed by GEICO/JG Racing Monster Energy Kawasaki's Paul Whibley taking a surprise second, and Shock Doctor KTM's Nate Kanney's first appearance on the podium since round one.
Defending GNCC Champion Knight, who just recently left a BMW ride in Europe, took home the $10,000 overall win, as well as an additional $1000 for topping the XC1 class. The big-purse Snowshoe event also paid a $5000 bonus to Whibley and $3000 to Kanney.
"The first thing is to have fun on the bike again," Knight said. "The track wasn't difficult. I just had to use my head a little bit."
The race broke down to a Knight-versus-Strang battle for the win. During the fifth lap, disaster struck Strang when he crashed into a deer in the wooded section of the course, leaving Whibley to make up significant time and climb into second place.
Knight significantly increased his lead, finishing five minutes ahead of Whibley, and Kanney in third.
"The first lap was a bit dodgy in a few places," Knight said. "I didn't know where Strang was in the lead, and I went the wrong way a few times. At the moment I'm happy to be doing my own thing again."
Whibley, who extended his points lead over Strang, said, "It was a long day for me. I couldn't get up with them today. I managed to come in second and get some points. Jarrett and I got stuck in a mud hole for awhile and Josh passed us by. I never saw him again."
Mullins took fourth place, followed by Jimmy Jarrett in fifth. Strang was able to recover to finish in sixth place, with Jesse Robinson, on a Husaberg, coming in seventh. Kenny Gilbert was eighth, with visiting AMA Pro motocross rider Charles Summey ninth. Shock Doctor KTM's Kurt Casselli rounded out the top 10.
In XC2 action, Jason Thomas took a decisive victory by leading from start to finish for his first win of the year.
Thomas spent most of the race so far ahead of the rest of the XC2 crowd, he spent most of his time on the track by himself, gunning to get up with the XC1 riders.
"The first lap was like riding at home," Thomas, who grew up outside of the Welsh forest, said. "I could swear I was at home. I didn't get arm pump, I didn't get tired. I pushed all day in the hopes I could get to the front. But those guys rode awesome."
Thomas and the Shock Doctor KTM's of Cory Buttrick and Kailub Russell have been the group to watch in XC2 action, but today, the KTM duo saw bad luck right from the beginning.
"The first lap, a mile into it, my brakes locked up," Russell said. "Then they totally went out. I putted around kind of bummed but they came back and I started riding better and I started moving up."
In the first lap, Buttrick got stuck in a mud hole, taking 15 minutes to get out of the quicksand like terrain and falling back to 13th place. Ryan Echols made a hard charge to stay in third place, but was out of running after the fourth lap. Buttrick and Russell started to make a recovery even though they couldn't catch up to Thomas.
"I was pretty happy with my riding," Russell said. "The first thing I thought was, 'Man, I'm not going to be on the podium. But I dug deep and rode pretty good."
With Thomas taking a decisive lead, Privateer Jake Korn, who has been finishing just off the podium this season, roared into third and then second place.
"I was off to a great start," Korn said. "I couldn't push too hard so I didn't get stuck. I just took my time and paced myself to just get through the track."
Russell came in third, with GEICO/JG Racing Monster Kawasaki's Scottie Watkins in fourth. Eric Bailey made it through losing his seat midway through the race came in fifth. David Snyder came in sixth followed by Buttrick in seventh. Mat Herrington, Ryan Echols and Patrick Massie rounded out the top 10.
Top Amatuer Award went to Chris Bach.
The Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series is now on a two-month break and will return with the Can-Am Unadilla GNCC in New Berlin, NY, on September 12-13.
1. David Knight (KAW)
2. Paul Whibley (KAW)
3. Nathan Kanney (KTM)
4. Charles Mullins (SUZ)
5. Jim Jarrett (KAW)
6. Josh Strang (SUZ)
7. Jesse Robinson (HUS)
8. Kenny Gilbert (KAW)
9. Charles Summey (KTM)
10. Kurt Casselli (KTM)
XC1 Point Standings: 1. Paul Whibley (214/3 wins) 2. Josh Strang (201/4 wins) 3. Charles Mullins (197/1 win) 4.Jim Jarrett (160) 5. Nathan Kanney (139) 6.Barry Hawk Jr. (123) 7. Kurt Casselli (121) 8.Jesse Robinson (92) 9. Glenn Kearney (91) 10.Kenneth Gilbert (87)
1. Jason Thomas (YAM)
2. Jake Korn (KTM)
3. Kailub Russell (KTM)
4. Scott Watkins (KAW)
5. Eric Bailey (KTM)
6. David Snyder (YAM)
7. Cory Buttrick (KTM)
8. Mat Herrington (KAW)
9. Ryan Echols (KAW)
10. Patrick Massie (KAW)
XC2 Point Standings: 1.Kailub Russell (247/6 wins) 2.Cory Buttrick (193/1 win) 3. Jason Thomas (191/1 win) 4. Scott Watkins (175) 5.Jake Korn (146) 6.Brian Lawson (108) 7.Robert Santheson (108) 8.Andrew Matusek (94) 9. Eric Bailey (90) 10. Mat Herrington (85)