David Knight, the defending GNCC Champion from the Isle of Man, took his Red Bull KTM to yet another victory, this time at the Acerbis Loretta Lynn’s GNCC in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee, April 27. Once again, the FMF Suzuki team filled out the podium, with surging young Australian Josh Strang taking second and Charlie Mullins taking third for the second-straight race.
Knight grabbed a rare good start in the three-hour race through the woods, fields and motocross track at the home of the legendary country music singer. He found himself battling early with one expected competitor, Mullins, who grabbed the Racer X Holeshot Award, and also with a surprise, 2000 GNCC Champion Shane Watts. Watts even took the lead early, while Knight was hit in the neck with a rock and dropped back a few seconds. Before long Knight was back on the pace and took the lead back, while Watts ended up stuck on a hill.
“It was fun to get out there with Shane and run the pace,” said Knight. “He was riding really well, so I just stayed in behind him early on. After I got the lead I just tried to maintain a comfortable pace and hold on.”
Watts, now focused more on hosting riding schools than racing, eventually dropped off of the pace, leaving Strang and Mullins to chase Knight. But another surprise Australian joined the lead fray, with Husqvarna’s Glenn Kearney mounting an impressive charge and getting around Mullins for third at one point. Mullins put pressure on Kearney on the final lap to make the pass for third, but Kearney held on for fourth, the best finish yet for the Scott Summers-managed Husqvarna team.
Like Kearney, Am-Pro Yamaha’s Jason Raines looked rejuvinated while running fifth for most of the race. On the last lap, however, a hard-charging pack took advantage of a Raines mistake to drop him to seventh. Red Bull KTM’s Nathan Kanney grabbed fifth ahead of FMF Suzuki’s Paul Whibley. Whibley’s teammate Jimmy Jarrett was eighth, with the Kawasaki duo of Garrett Edmisten and Jesse Robinson rounding out the XC1 top 10.
Am-Pro Yamaha’s Thad Duvall returned to victory lane in the XC2 Lites class, now claiming four wins in five races this season. The West Virginia native topped Monster Energy/Andrews Yamaha’s Josh Weisenfels and Powersport GrafX KTM’s Kailub Russell. The winner of the previous XC2 round, Dustin Gibson, snagged the Thumpertalk.com Holeshot Award but then struck a tree on the first lap and injured his foot. He managed fourth coming in ahead of defending XC2 Champion Justin Williamson on a Red Bull KTM.