Another lesson learned for the pro contenders in the Suzuki Grand National Cross Country Series: Don't make KTM's Juha Salminen angry. The 10-time World Enduro Champion may carry a nice, easy-going demeanor off the track, but he is a ferocious competitor on it. After taking a tough loss last weekend in South Carolina, Juha came roaring back with fire in his eyes, taking one of the most dominant GNCC wins ever at the Steele Creek GNCC in North Carolina.
"It is good to do it this way, not to prove something to the others, but to myself," said Salminen on the podium. "I wanted to show how fast I could go. I trained with my starts all week, and when you get that start, it makes you go out there and go fast."
The start is rarely the deciding factor in a three-hour GNCC race, but it can be when you're as fast as Salminen. Coming into the race, the KTM team decided that as long as no one could see Salminen, they wouldn't be able to learn from him or apply any pressure. So they worked on starts, and the #111 rider from Finland grabbed a huge holeshot. Then he put his sprinting skills to work, getting off to a huge lead on the first lap. And that lead grew all day. He won by nearly three minutes when it was all over.
Behind him a tremendous battle broke out for the runner-up spot between Am Pro Yamaha teammates Jason Raines and Barry Hawk, who won last week's race. But FMF Suzuki's super-rookie Glenn Kearney wouldn't let the Yamaha boys go. Once the trio hooked up, they exchanged crashes, mistakes, and positions all day long.
Raines actually crossed the line second, but was later penalized three spots for ending up off the course during the race. This bumped Hawk into second and Kearney into third.
KTM's Robbie Jenks was credited with fourth. Kawasaki Team Green's Chuck Woodford was sixth, while FMF Suzuki's RM-Z450 pilot Fred Andrews was seventh. FMF/Throttlehead.com Kawasaki's Steve Hatch was eighth, with top amateur Charlie Mullins ninth and KTM's Andy Shea 10th.
The Steele Creek GNCC was taped for an airing on the Outdoor Life Network, and GNCC races air Tuesdays at 5 p.m., Thursdays at 11 a.m. and Saturdays at 2 p.m. EST.
1. Juha Salminen, Finland (KTM) 02:45:05
2. Barry Hawk, Jr. Smithfield, PA (Yam) 02:47:56
3. Glenn Kearney, Australia (Suz) 02:48:44
4. Robbie Jenks, New Straitsville, OH (KTM) 02:49:35
5. Jason Raines, Belfair, WA (Yam) 02:49:36
6. Chuck Woodford, St Clairsville, OH (Kaw) 02:52:24
7. Fred Andrews, Salem, OH (Suz) 02:53:42
8. Steve Hatch, Scottsdale, AZ (Kaw) 02:54:07
9. Charles Mullins, Hamilton, OH (Yam) 02:54:37
10. Andy Shea, Oxford, OH (KTM) 02:55:49
11. Jimmy Jarrett, Beloit, OH (Suz) 02:56:27
12. Aaron Wegner, Traverse City, MI (Yam) 02:57:00
13. Brian Garrahan, Boulder Creek, CA (Suz) 02:57:50
14. Christopher Robertson, Athens, OH (Kaw) 02:58:18
15. Stephen Edmondson, North Augusta, SC (KTM) 03:00:32
16. Justin Williamson, Sanford, FL (Yam) 03:01:52
17. P A Allen, Charlotte, TN (Kaw) 03:01:57
18. Chris Gallt, Eagle, MI (Kaw) 03:02:33
19. Ryan Rodgers, Dover, PA (Yam) 03:03:00
20. Brett Zofchak, Washington, PA (Kaw) 03:03:22
Suzuki GNCC Series Overall Point Standings
1. Juha Salminen 136/3 win
2. Glenn Kearney 93
3. Barry Hawk, Jr. 89/1 win
4. Robbie Jenks 77
5. Michael Lafferty 62
6. Chuck Woodford 61
7. Shane Watts 57
8. Steve Hatch 54
9. Brian Garrahan 51
10. Charlie Mullins 50