The opening round of the Grand National Cross Country Series in Palatka, Florida, just finished and you might say that Yamaha had a good day. The first three positions were filled by Yamaha riders after a long, nasty day on the track. In fact, eight of the top 10 were Yamaha-mounted.
The rain, and lots of it, brought back visions of the old Blackwater 100 race (but not quite that bad though some would argue that), and when it was all over, it was Barry Hawk Jr. (pictured) who came away with the hard-fought win. It was Hawks’ third career GNCC win. Finishing second was Hawk’s teammate Robbie Jenks, followed by Jason Raines, while Expert-class rider Garrett Edminsten, a Kawasaki Team Green rider, finished fourth. Yamaha’s Randy Hawkins rounded out the top five overall. Yamaha riders William Gilleland and Jim Jarrett finished sixth and seventh, while Honda rider Doug Blackwell finished eighth. Yamaha riders Russ Pearson and David Lykke rounded out the top 10 overall.
There were many leaders in the race, including defending champ Rodney Smith, KTM rider Brian Garrahan, KTM’s Mike Lafferty, and Pearson, who had a fairly big lead when he was taken out by a lapped rider.
The race, however, is reportedly under protest, so results could change. The protest stems from the first lap, when the lead riders, which included at least Smith, Fred Andrews and Lafferty, where led astray by wrong course markings that were left over from Sunday's Quad race; the arrows had not yet been pulled when they had arrived. When the leaders rejoined the correct course, the confused riders were suddenly running midpack. Smith, Andrews and Lafferty eventually pulled out of the race for various reasons while trying to catch back up. (Smith was credited with 14th place in the Pro class and Lafferty was credited with 25th.) Reportedly, some of the teams involved now want throw-away rounds to be added to the series, or, in an extreme measure, want the Palatka race thrown out all together, which will be unlikely.
Pro-Class Results (unofficial):
1. Barry Hawk (Yam); 2. Robbie Jenks (Yam); 3. Jason Raines (Yam); 4. Randy Hawkins (Yam); 5. Willaim Gilleland (Yam); 6. Jim Jarrett (Yam); 7. Doug Blackwell (Hon); 8. Russell Pearson (Yam); 9. David Lykke (Yajm); 10. Josh McLevy (Yam); 14. Rodney Smith (Suz); 18. Brian Garrahan (KTM); 20. Steve Hatch (Suz); 21 Mike Kiedrowski (Suz); 22. Lance Smail (Yam); 24. Kurt Caselli (KTM); 25. Mike Lafferty (KTM). DNF: Brian Brown (Kaw); Cole Calkins (KTM); Andy Grider (Hon); Chuck Woodford (Kaw); Fred Andrews (Kaw).