Once again, Am Pro Yamaha's Barry Hawk was the King of the Mountain yesterday at the most prestigious Suzuki Grand National Cross Country event: the Parts Unlimited Wisp GNCC in Deep Creek, MD. He earned it the hard way, upending defending GNCC Champion Juha Salminen by coming from behind on a rugged, rocky track in a driving rain. And the fans couldn't be happier.
"It's awesome. Everybody out there was cheering," said Hawk. "After my first lap I thought I was never going to catch those guys. I was way back and I thought it was going to be a long day. I think I was being too conservative. So I really started flooring it, and it seemed like I was a gear higher than everyone."
Hawk, of nearby Smithfield, PA had to battle past Salminen, the Finnish 10-time World Champion who has dominated the 2006 season. The duo put on a great race, but Salminen came up short on the steep ski slopes of the Wisp. "It was four places better than last year, and that was my goal," said Salminen. "It still was not my best, but it's what we could do. Barry was just fast."
A surprise podium went to 19-year-old Justin Williamson, who finished third. "At the beginning of this year I had to learn the determination and the dedication to run with these guys," said Williamson. "It was raining out there and all I saw was sunshine. The rain and the rocks, it looks like that was a good combination for me."
AMA Motocross legend John Dowd (right) took a solid fourth in his first-ever GNCC race. Dowd ran as high as third before dropping his pace just a touch late in the race. "It was good. I put in a couple of good laps and a couple of bad ones," said Dowd, always smiling. "I had fun though. I'm pretty sure I am going to come back and race the one at Unadilla. It's still kind of mind boggling to ride for three hours. I did good for four laps, but the last two, it was tough after that."
OVERALL: 1. Barry Hawk (Yam); 2. Juha Salminen (KTM); 3. Justin Williamson (Yam); 4. John Dowd (Suz); 5. Thaddeus Duvall (Yam); 6. Jimmy Jarrett (Suz); 7. Glenn Kearney (Suz); 8. Nathan Kanney (Yam); 9. Robbie Jenks (KTM); 10 Paul Whibley (Hon); 11. Garett Edmisten (Kaw); 12. Charles Mullins (Yam); 13. Travis Green (Kaw); 14. Dustin Gibson (KTM); 15. Gary Fridley (KTM); 16. Jake Korn (GG); 17. Brian Lawson (Yam); 18. John Bennett (Yam); 19. Brett Zofchak (Kaw); 20. Todd Morain (KTM).