Am Pro Yamaha’s Barry Hawk finally answered the, “Who can beat Juha Salminen,” question with a gritty come-from-behind win at the Pirelli Big Buck GNCC in South Carolina, yesterday. It was round four of the Suzuki Grand National Cross Country Series.
Hawk, of Smithfield, Pennsylvania, topped a list of overseas talent. FMF Suzuki’s Australian Glenn Kearney rallied to second, Salminen, from Finland, was third on his KTM, and another Australian, Shane Watts, was fourth. Ohio’s Robbie Jenks rounded out the top five.
At the Big Buck, Hawk battled with a trio of KTM riders: Mike Lafferty, Salminen and Watts. Lafferty crashed hard and had to drop out of the race with a suspected broken collarbone. With the battle down to three, Hawk made a move in a deep mud hole. He passed Watts and then zeroed in on Salminen, who then buried his front wheel in a mud hole and crashed, taking a handlebar to the stomach. Meanwhile, Hawk made a break while in the lead, but Watts stayed within 10 seconds as they neared the last lap.
“I was getting kind of tired, but I knew I had to keep charging,” Hawk said. “I knew if I made one mistake Watts would be right on me. But I didn’t make any mistakes.”
Instead Watts made the error, crashing in a mudhole. This opened the door for a come-from-behind ride by Kearney, who slithered through the mud to pass Salminen and Watts. It was Kearney’s second runner-up ride of the year. Salminen out dueled Watts in the final mile to take third, preserving his points lead.