Red Bull KTM's Nathan Kanney ended the 2008 Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Season on a positive note with a dominant win at the Klotz Ironman GNCC in Indiana. Kanney lead every lap of the race, holding off a charge from FMF Suzuki's Charlie Mullins and Am-Pro Yamaha's Thad DuVall to take his first win of the season.
"I don't know what the difference was today, but this is what I wanted to do at all the races all year," said Kanney with a laugh on the podium. "The KTM team has worked really hard for me all year and it's a relief to finally pay them back."
New York's Nathan Kanney scored his first GNCC win of the year at the season-finale Klotz Ironman GNCC. Photo by Jason Hooper
Mullins snagged the Racer X Holeshot Award and led for a few miles before Kanney sprinted past and opened a lead. Mullins battled with his teammate Josh Strang and Am-Pro Yamaha's Barry Hawk early before mounting a charge and chasing Kanney. He closed the gap to 25 seconds, but could never get closer.
"I can't complain," said Mullins. "A podium is good. I wanted to win really bad today, but Nate outrode me, I couldn't catch him. I'm getting more experience on the 450 though, so hopefully I can use that next year."
DuVall, the XC2 Lites Champion, collected a podium finish in just his second-ever XC1 race. He battled his veteran teammate Hawk all day to take third. "I told myself not to ride over my head, and I pretty much stayed in control except for a few tip overs," said Duvall. "I ride the 450 smoother than the 250, since I don't have to work so hard to go fast. So I'm pretty happy. This is where I want to be next year."
Hawk took fourth ahead of FMF Suzuki's Paul Whibley, the winner of the previous GNCC.
"I knew at some point Whibley and Strang, the guys who had been really strong all year, they would be coming," said Kanney. "I saw the gap closed down a little bit, but I think that was more from me getting stuck a few times than me actually slowing down."
In XC2 Lites, Powersports Graf X duo Kailub Russell and Cory Buttrick put on a battle, the former GNCC Youth Champions pushing the pace in the early laps. Buttrick led, Russell closed the gap, then lost time with a pit stop. Buttrick eventually ran into rear-wheel problems while leading, though, and Russell charged past to take his second win of the season.
"We were pushing pretty hard early, and I was making a lot of mistakes, so I just slowed down," said Russell, who also collected the Thumpertalk.com Holeshot Award. "I caught back up, but after I had to gas again, I lost a lot of time and I really don't think I could have caught him. But then all of a sudden I saw a mousse tube in the center of the track, I've never seen that before. I caught Cory and realized that it had come out of his bike."
Buttrick lost time in the pits fixing his tube, which allowed Monster Energy/Andrews Yamaha's Jason Thomas to pass. Then a few crashes pushed Buttrick behind the Monster Energy Kawasaki duo of Scott Watkins and Andrew Matusek. The young Ohio rider mounted a late-race charge to get back into second.
"At first, Kailub and I were just going way too fast, but it was a blast," said Buttrick. "I was just trying to keep it going and not get tired. I tried to save something for the last two laps and then put the hammer down. Somehow my mousse tube came out of my rear wheel. After I fixed it, I pushed to hard and crashed, I thought I had thrown a podium away. It sounds funny, but I kind of impressed myself because I never really got that tired."
Thomas held second until he crashed with two corners to go, putting Buttrick back ahead of him. "That's two races in a row where I lost it on the last lap, but that's racing," said Thomas, who hails from Wales. "It's a dream to come here to America and do this, so I'm happy."
GNCC Champion David Knight did not compete in the bike race. After wrapping up the '08 Title, "Knighter" decided to race in Saturday's ATV race for fun, finishing 22nd in the XC1 pro class and 49th overall.
"It was really just a bit of fun," said Knight of his ATV race. "It sent me straight back to being a beginner, but I was in the deep end of the pool! I don't know if it's a physically tiring as the bike, but it just beats
on you more, just pulling on your arms and your hips constantly. I actually got a decent start, better than I ever do on a bike. But they started pulling away quick, so I just started moving over and letting the faster guys go past, until I found some riders I could ride with. It was probably kids on auto quads, though! I have a lot of respect for those quad guys now. They're really tough."
X Games Gold Medallist Tarah Geiger, a fellow Red Bull athlete along with Knight, came to the race just to watch Knight struggle on the ATV.
The morning race overall win went to John Maschino, and Todd Elrod collected the AXA Advisors Holeshot Award.
The Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series continues with the annual GNCC ATV and Bike Banquets on November 29 and 30. For more information on the series, scroll to www.gnccracing.com.
Results: Klotz Ironman GNCC
October 26, 2008
1. Nathan Kanney (KTM)
2. Charlie Mullins (Suz)
3. Thad DuVall (Yam)
4. Barry Hawk (Yam)
5. Paul Whibley (Suz)
6. Glenn Kearney (HSQ)
7. Jesse Robinson (Yam)
8. Valteiri Salonen (Hbg)
9. Adam Bonneur (Yam)
10. Jake Stapleton (Yam)
1. Kailub Russell (KTM)
2. Cory Buttrick (KTM)
3. Jason Thomas (Yam)
4. Andrew Matusek (Kaw)
5. Scott Watkins (Kaw)
6. Jake Korn (KTM)
7. John Barber (Yam)
8. Ryan Echols (Hon)
9. David Snyder (Yam)
10. Andy Shea (KTM)
Knight 288, Whibley 267, Strang 247, Kanney 242, Mullins 221, Jarrett 186, Kearney 171, Raines 162, Robinson 142, Hawk 132.
DuVall 289, Gibson 232, Russell 230, Watkins 174, Williamson 162, Matusek 160, Lawson 145, Bailey 139, Weisenfels 138, Barber 126