When Team Kawasaki’s Chuck Woodford is on fire, even heavy rain can’t put him out. The first-ever Patriot GNCC at Virginia Motorsports Park was greeted with showers just minutes before the race began. But while the course was starting to deteriorate, Woodford was just getting warmed up.
“I got a terrible start,” Woodford said. “I got pinched off in the first turn and was running about last. But the ruts started getting deep and guys started to get stuck. I rode as fast as I could go. My bike was working great.”
Woodford beat KTM’s National Enduro Champion Mike Lafferty to the finish after three hours of racing. Fellow Kawasaki rider Fred Andrews was third. All three riders had terrible starts, but they were able to make up for them in the muddy conditions.
KTM’s Shane Watts surprised everyone when he took the lead and held it for the first lap, the first promising ride the often-injured former-champ has put together in some time. Eventually Watts faded back, and Lafferty completed an amazing last-to-first charge to get into the lead after two laps. Woodford went on a tear too, and when Lafferty got stuck he was able to catch him and then take the lead. From there, the duo battled hard, swapping the lead several times.
“Once he got me I wanted to stay with him and learn his lines,” said Lafferty. “But it’s tough; he wanted to use different lines than I did. He’s on a different style of bike too, since I’m on the big thumper. So I learned a little bit watching him, like how he approaches ruts. He rode well, he deserves it.”
Andrews dug deep for third, finishing ahead of Ohio’s Jimmy Jarrett and series’ points leader Barry Hawk. “I rode well, I just made a few mistakes out there,” said the Am-Pro/Morgantown Yamaha/MSR-backed Hawk. “I was trying to pass Freddy [Andrews], and we got to this rut, and he must have taken the last fraction of an inch of mud off of it. He got through and I got stuck.”
But Hawk continues to stretch his series’ lead, as his teammate Jason Raines struggled again and finished ninth. Lafferty is now second in GNCC points after eight rounds, some 43 points back on Hawk. Defending GNCC Champion Rodney Smith suffered an improbable fourth-straight DNF when he had clutch problems on his FMF Suzuki.
O/A: 1. Chuck Woodford (Kaw); 2. Michael Lafferty (KTM); 3. Fred Andrews (Kaw); 4. Jim Jarrett (Yam); 5. Barry Hawk (Yam); 6. Andy Shea (KTM); 7. Randy Hawkins (Yam); 8. Robbie Jenks (Yam); 9. Jason Raines (Yam); 10. Steve Hatch (Suz); 11. Joshua Mclevy (Yam); 12. Mike Kiedrowski (Suz); 13. Shane Watts (KTM); 14. Stephen Edmondson (KTM); 15. Brett Zofchak (Kaw); 16. Gary Fridley (Yam); 17. Marty Aloisio (GG); 18. Scottie Rich (Kaw); 19. Ben Bouwens (Yam); 20. P A Allen (Kaw).
AMA Grand National Cross Country Series Points Standings (After 8 of 13 rounds): 1. Barry Hawk, Jr. (193/3 wins); 2. Michael Lafferty (150/1 win); 3. Jason Raines (143); 4. Fred Andrews (132/1 win); 5. Robbie Jenks (117); 6. Randy Hawkins (109); 7. Steve Hatch (100); 8. Chuck Woodford (85/2 wins); 9. Rodney Smith (72/1 win); 10. Mike Kiedrowski (64).