Lafferty Wins Georgia GNCC

| March 10, 2003

KTM’s Mike Lafferty rebounded after DNF’ing the opening round of the AMA Grand National Cross Country Series by dominating round two – the General GNCC in Washington, Georgia. Warm sunny weather on Sunday served as a welcome change from the swampy conditions at the season-opening Hurricane GNCC in Palatka, Florida, but the course ended up being just as tough as the Florida event. The General GNCC had also taken on a tremendous dose of rain earlier in the week, and with over 800 motorcycle racers pounding the soft red clay, the course became a muddy, rutted mess, which didn’t bother Lafferty one bit. The five-time AMA National Enduro Champion crashed out in the mud in round one, and he came to Georgia with revenge on his mind. It paid off when he pulled a one-minute lead on the rest of the field in a dominating performance on a very tough race track.

“This one was for Florida,” said Lafferty from the victory podium.

FMF/Suzuki’s Steve Hatch took the holeshot, but Lafferty had the lead by the end of lap one. Defending series champ Rodney Smith and Yamaha-mounted Jimmy Jarrett challenged Lafferty early, but by the halfway point, the enduro ace had the gnarly conditions mastered, and the tougher it got, the better he rode. Lafferty swerved his big KTM 450 around the course with ease, while most of the riders struggled in the soft, rutted conditions. Most of the ruts grew too deep for the riders to plow through, which led to stuck bikes everywhere and hundreds of new lines opening up around them.

The course was actually just as tough as the season opener, which fell into the hands of last week’s winner, Am-Pro Yamaha’s Barry Hawk. Hawk came from deep in the pack to take second place and extend his series points lead. Hawk rode fourth for most of the race before putting on an amazing last-lap charge to catch FMF/Suzuki’s Rodney Smith and Kawasaki’s Fred Andrews and snag the runner-up spot. Smith held on to third, while Andrews suffered engine problems and struggled to seventh. The Yamahas’ of Jason Raines and Robbie Jenks took fourth and fifth place, respectively.

O/A Results:

1. Mike Lafferty (KTM); 2. Barry Hawk (Yam); 3. Rodney Smith (Suz); 4. Jason Raines (Yam); 5. Robbie Jenks (Yam); 6. Steve Hatch (Suz); 7. Fred Andrews (Kaw); 8. Randy Hawkins (Yam); 9. Brian Garrahan (KTM); 10. P.A. Allen Vanleer (Kaw); 11. Doug Blackwell (Honn); 12. Brett Zofchak (Kaw); 13. Ben Bouwens (Yam); 14. Russell Bobbitt (GG); 15. Chris Gallt (Kaw); 16. Scott Watkins (Kaw); 17. Tommy Veator (KTM); 18. John Bennett (Suz); 19. Dustin Gibson (KTM); 20. Kurt Caselli (KTM).

By Jason Weingandt