At the Klotz Ironman GNCC, the final round of the 2009 Can-Am Grand National Cross Country series, Shock Doctor KTM’s Nate Kanney was the best at battling the hills of the steepest course of the 13-stop circuit. After an intense battle that saw Kanney, and FMF Makita Suzuki’s Charlie Mullins and Josh Strang trading in and out of the lead, Kanney emerged with his first victory of the season by just inches over Mullins. The massive crowd on hand, easily the largest of the season, cheered both to the finish in a fitting season finale. Behind the leaders, GEICO/JG Racing/Monster Kawasaki’s Paul Whibley claimed the 2009 GNCC Championship with a safe fourth-place finish.
“I just can’t even believe it,” said Whibley, of New Zealand. “I don’t have the words for this right now. This is my ultimate goal, to win the GNCC Championship in the U.S.”
This is Kanney’s third Ironman win in the last four years. “I feel really comfortable in this dirt,” said New York native Kanney. “Today was kind of dumb luck. I think Mullins and Strang were going faster than me and honestly, I didn’t even know I was in the lead.”
Mullins was the fastest out of the front line and nabbed the $250 Motorcycle-USA.com holeshot award. Mullins then led the first three laps and battled with his teammate Strang until he went into what he called a “bottomless mudhole.”
Strang crashed on the first lap but when he overtook Mullins, he led until he managed to get stuck on the last two laps in mudholes. Mullins and Kanney were able to move back past him as they started a wheel-to-wheel battle to the finish line where Kanney and Mullins came to a wheel-crashing finish with Kanney mere inches in the lead.
“I made some mistakes and I cost myself the race,” Mullins said. “I just came up short but I’ll take it. I think I learned a lot this year and I’m glad to end the season with another podium.”
Strang finished about a minute behind in third.
In XC2 racing action, Shock Doctor KTM’s Cory Buttrick took the win, followed by his teammate Kailub Russell in second and Monster Energy/FAR Yamaha’s Jason Thomas in third. The three pulled overall leads in the race, ahead of the XC1 riders at one point, and also secured top overall finishes for the year