The following is a release from GNCC Racing:
The battle has been brewing for two years, and now two World Champions – Finland’s Juha Salminen and Isle of Man’s David Knight – will face off at this weekend’s Power Line Park GNCC in St. Clairsville, Ohio, round 12 of the Suzuki Grand National Cross Country Series.
Salminen is the current champion of the U.S.-based GNCC Series. Knight, the current FIM World Enduro Champion in the E3 class, will race the GNCC Series in the U.S in 2007 for the factory KTM team. He will use this weekend as a test, but this will be the only time he faces Salminen, who will head back to Europe next season.
Salminen was the dominant rider in Europe’s World Enduro Championship for nearly a decade, and then he headed to the U.S. for 2005 to find a new challenge. He dominated the U.S. scene from the start, winning the 2005 GNCC title and then clinching it again in 2006. Back in Europe, Knight upgraded to the factory KTM team to take Salminen’s place, and dominated his championship class for the last two years. While Salminen did best Knight for World titles in years previous, it’s clear that Knight is a totally different rider than he was two years ago. Besides winning two World Enduro titles, Knight won the ISDE overall, the Red Bull Last Man Standing, the Maxxis EnduroCross and the Erzburg Rally, making him nearly undefeated in two years of racing.
But Salminen is well-versed in the three-hour GNCC game. He has rung up a remarkable record, winning 17 out of 23 GNCCs since moving here in 2005, making him possibly the most dominant rider in the nearly 30-year history of the series. The two will collide this Sunday at 1 p.m. at Power Line Park in St. Clairsville, Ohio, just outside of Wheeling, WV, off of I-70.
Both Salminen and Knight will ride four-stroke machines, with Salminen on the 2007 250 XC-F and Knight on the 2007 450 XC.
There are plenty of spoilers out there looking to ruin the KTM 1-2 punch. Am Pro Yamaha’s Barry Hawk has been the most consistent challenger to Salminen over the last two years. Super-rookie Charlie Mullins is hungry to finally get his first win after countless top-three finishes the last two seasons. FMF/Suzuki’s Australian threat Glenn Kearney is similarly on the verge of his first win. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki veteran Fred Andrews is always fast on his home turf in Ohio. RER Motorcity’s Nathan Kanney is coming off of his first-ever GNCC win two weeks ago, and Ohio’s own Robbie Jenks has wrapped up his first-ever AMA National Hare Scrambles Championship.
The facility is located at Exit 213 off Ohio I-70 to Route 331 N.. Roughly 15 miles from Wheeling, W.Va.