Perhaps David Knight has this Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series figured out now. Once again the Red Bull KTM rider from the Isle of Man overcame a bad start in the Acerbis Loretta Lynn’s GNCC in Tennessee on April 29 to move to the front of the pack and notch a win, his second-straight GNCC victory, and also one that moves him into the series points lead for the first time in his career.
“I feel even better on the bike now, so it’s just a matter of keep doing what we’ve been doing,” said Knight. “I got the bad start again, but I was able to make my way through. You just have to be patient with the lappers. I finally found my opportunity and tried to up my pace a bit.”
While Knight maintained a gap over the pack, a huge battle broke out for second that ultimately was settled in the final corner. Am Pro Yamaha’s Charlie Mullins passed Kawasaki privateer Garrett Edmisten in the last turn of the race to take second, both riders showing new levels of fitness and toughness on their way to the podium.
“I spent the last week doing more training and less riding,” said Mullins. “I’ve really been training hard this year compared to last year. I think it pays off for me in these races, because I felt strong all the way to the end, and that’s how I was able to get second.”
Edmisten continues to shock the established stars, as the rookie XC1 Pro rider is still among the points leaders on his full privateer ride.
“It’s definitely more difficult at times racing against the guys as a privateer,” said Edmisten. “But that just gives me more motivation.”
Edmisten raced so hard that he has completely worn his rear tire down in the three-hour battle with Mullins.
A pair of Australians dueled over fourth and fifth, with FMF Suzuki’s Glenn Kearney taking the fourth spot ahead of CycleHutt.com/Funmart Cycles Yamaha rider Shane Watts. Both riders showed speed early in the race by leading through the early stages.
Monster/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Jesse Robinson took sixth overall, just ahead of an incredible battle for the XC2 Pro Lites class win between a four-rider pack. In the end, FMF Suzuki’s five-time GNCC Champion Rodney Smith won it by just inches over Am Pro Yamaha’s 17-year-old Thad DuVall. Red Bull KTM’s Justin Williamson, who had snagged the Thumpertalk.com Holeshot Award, was a close third, with KTM/Powersports GrafX rider Dustin Gibson a close fourth in class.
The XC2 Lites pack-all 250F mounted-bumped the rest of the XC1 pros out of the top ten overall. FMF Suzuki’s Josh Strang was 11th, and Am-Pro Yamaha’s Barry Hawk was 12th. Hawk was very disappointed with his ride.
“I got my best start of the year, I was with the guys, and I steadily made my way backwards,” said Hawk. “I don’t know what to look for right now, but we’re going to have to figure out something to stay in this championship.”
The 2007 Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series continues with the Wiseco John Penton GNCC in Athens, Ohio, May 12-13.