The following is a release from GNCC Racing -
With a big win at the Klotz Ironman GNCC, Am Pro Yamaha's Barry Hawk ended the 2004 Grand National Cross Country season with three-straight victories. But Hawk has had better days, because after the race he had to hand his GNCC number-one plate over to FMF Suzuki's Rodney Smith, who clinched a historic fifth-career GNCC thanks to another strong, consistent season.
"I really didn't think I would win this title this year," said Smith, who ended up clinching the championship at the Ironman when his rival, Am Pro Yamaha's Jason Raines, was unable to race due to a broken shoulder. "This year I turned 40, and I don't know what it is about that age, but sometimes you have some doubts. But then I got a win at 40, and I think that was a big turning point for me. Winning the title at 40, that's such a big milemarker, I'd say this is the sweetest out of all the titles I have."
Hawk had to hand his plate back to Smith after taking it from him last year, but he did end his season on a high note by outdueling National Enduro Champion Mike Lafferty for a win. "I'm definitely happy, especially because we won the last two races on the 2005 YZ," said Hawk. "We got a lot of homework done early, so we'll be ready for next year. It's okay to have to hand it over to Rodney, though. He's a great guy. I remember looking up to him when I was just an A rider, and I felt like I could hardly even talk to him! And I still look up to him. He's a great champion, and I can't take anything away from him."
Lafferty, who has struggled in his comeback from a knee injury, logged his best GNCC ride of the year with second.
For the second race in a row, Team Green Kawasaki's Chuck Woodford ended up third.
With the title sewn up, Smith dropped from the race early and let his historic victory celebration begin. Smith's 2004 achievement is significant for several reasons. Not only is he the first 40-year-old to clinch America's most prestigious off-road title, but his fifth GNCC title ties him with series legends Scott Summers and Ed Lojak on top of the all-time title list. "When Suzuki switched to this series years ago, I remember thinking, I was in my thirties, and I didn't think I was young enough to learn everything and even win one title," said Smith. "I definitely didn't think I would be able to match Scott. He's kind of like a role model for me, he's so professional and he really brought the sport to another level. It's amazing to me that I was able to match his record."
FMF Suzuki's Doug Blackwell overcame a terrible start and clawed all the way back to fourth overall, with Throttlehead.com Kawasaki's Steve Hatch ending a solid season in fifth.
Klotz Ironman GNCC
Bike Top Twenty Overall
1. Barry Hawk Jr., Smithfield, PA (Yam)
2. Doug Blackwell, Parkersburg, WV (Suz)
3. Chuck Woodford, St. Clairsville, OH (Kaw)
4. Rodney Smith, Antioch, CA (Suz)
5. Steve Hatch, Scottsdale, AZ (Kaw)
6. Cole Calkins, East Sparta, OH (Kaw)
7. Robbie Jenks, New Straitsville, OH (Yam)
8. P A Allen, Van Leer, TN (Kaw)
9. Charles Mullins, Trenton, OH (KTM)
10. D R Atwood, Millfield, OH (Ktm)
11. Scott Summers, Petersburg, KY (Hon)
12. John Barber, Aliquippa, PA (Gas)
13. Stephen Edmondson, Hardy, VA (KTM)
14. Justin Williamson, Sanford, FL (Yam)
15. Kyle Chaney, Pataskala, OH (Yam)
16. Garrett Edmisten, Vero Beach, FL (Kaw)
17. Mathew Fish, Australia (KTM)
18. Aaron Wegner, Traverse City, MI (Yam)
19. Greg Gillian, Cross Lanes, WV (Hon)
20. Chris Gallt, Eagle, MI (Kaw)
GNCC Overall Bike Point Standings (After 14 of 14 rounds)
1. Rodney Smith (319/6 wins)
2. Jason Raines (292/4 wins)
3. Barry Hawk Jr. (239/3 wins)
4. Steve Hatch (203)
5. Doug Blackwell (179)
6. Scott Summers (175)
7. Fred Andrews (168)
8. Mike Kiedrowski (142)
9. Cole Calkins (136)
10. Robbie Jenks (132)