World’s Best Begin GNCC Battle this Weekend America’s Largest Off-Road Racing Series Kicks off in Texas Staff
Gilmer, TX – This weekend in Texas, America’s best off-road riders begin the fight for the most prestigious title in American off-road racing: the Suzuki Grand National Cross Country Series Championship. This year, some of the fastest off-road racers from around the world will challenge America’s best at every turn.
With five-time and defending GNCC Champion Rodney Smith out with a leg injury, last year’s second and third ranked riders, Am Pro Yamaha’s Jason Raines and Barry Hawk, are the title favorites. But they’ll face Juha Salminen, a Ten-Time World Enduro Champion from Finland with a KTM factory GNCC ride for 2005. Australian Enduro Champion Glenn Kearney is also ready to roll with the FMF Suzuki factory team. Both Salminen and Kearney landed podium finishes in guest GNCC appearances last year, and with their full focus on GNCC racing, they will challenge for the title.
The rest of the field is capable, too. KTM’s six-time National Enduro Champion Mike Lafferty returns in perfect health after missing most of last year with an injury. Veteran threats Fred Andrews, of the FMF Suzuki squad, Steve Hatch, of Team FMF/Throttlehead.com/Kawasaki, and GNCC legend Scott Summers, of the Parts Unlimited/Moose Honda team, are ready too.
It adds up to one of the deepest, strongest fields ever assembled in American off-road, or anywhere else for that matter.
The title hunt begins this weekend with the second-annual Lone Star GNCC in Gilmer, Texas. National Enduro Champions Dick Burleson and Jeff Russell designed the rugged Texas track as the perfect early-season test. Hills, rocks, whoops and mud will prove who trained hardest once the three-hour pro bike race finishes on Sunday afternoon.
The Lone Star GNCC features action all weekend long. ATVs race Saturday, with Yamaha’s Bill Ballance gunning for his sixth-straight GNCC ATV title. The competition is deep, however. Yoshimura Suzuki’s William Yokley, Alba’s Chris Borich, and Team Polaris’ Matt Smiley have better support than ever, and they’ve been working hard in the off-season to finally top Ballance.
Pro races begin at on both days, with novice classes racing at Spectator admission is $12 for the entire weekend, and children under seven are free. The track is located 5 miles north of Gilmer on Rt. 155.Check out gnccracing.com for more information.
The AMA-sanctioned Suzuki Grand National Cross Country series is America’s premier off-road racing series. The 13-round series is produced exclusively by Racer Productions. Cross country racing is one of the most physically demanding sports in the world. The nearly three-hour long GNCC races lead as many as 1400 riders through tracks ranging from eight to twelve miles in length. With varied terrain including hills, mud, dirt, rocks and motocross sections, GNCC events are tests of both survival and speed. GNCC featured sponsors include Suzuki, Parts Unlimited, Moose, Maxxis, Pirelli, Wiseco, Klotz, FMF and ITP, and riders compete for over $1.3 million in series prizes and contingency money. Associate sponsors include Moose Utility Division, Scott, Alpinestars, Ohlins, atv parts Cometic, Outerwears, atv Race Tools, Twin Air, SFB Racing, Thor, Racer X Illustrated, Motion Pro, Tire Balls, Moto-Tee’s, Warrior and Laeger’s.