Summersville, WV – You can change the terrain, the weather, or the date, but the fact remains that if you get Team Yamaha’s Bill Ballance and Team Alba Actionsport’s Chris Borich on the starting line together at a Suzuki Grand National Cross Country event, it’s going to be an incredible fight to the finish.
And that’s the way it was again at the FMF Mountaineer GNCC in West Virginia, as the “Killer Bs” battled and pushed and passed each other for two-hours on a rugged, fast, 11-mile race track.
After an uncountable number of passes, Ballance held the lead on the final lap, but Borich tried a last-ditch attempt to get around on the treacherous FMF Doomsday Downhill, a muddy path piled with logs. Borich got next to Ballance, but Ballance took the line away, bumped his wheels, and held him off for his fourth win of the season.
“The battle was on,” said Ballance. “I think the fans liked it, they were out in the woods yelling everywhere. It makes you dig deep. Chris tried to make a pass on me going into the logs, and I just wasn’t going to give it up that easy after charging that hard. There was only one opening going over those logs, and after that we had the motocross track, and I was pretty confident going around that motocross track.”
“Ballance was leading, and everyone was stuck in this bottleneck,” said Borich. “I was pretty far back, but I could see his dust and I just charged and caught up to him. I knew the logs were coming up. I saw the line to the right, and Ballance took the line to the left. I thought I had the pass, but he held it a little longer than I did. I think if we had both went for it we would have wrecked.”
Ballance was able to extend his points lead, but since each rider can throw away his two worst finishes, Borich is still right there in the hunt for his first GNCC title.
The fans were even more pumped when local boy Chris Jenks, of Washington, WV, took his Four-Stroke Tech Honda to third overall. “Man it helps to have these fans out here, I heard them and it was good,” said Jenks. “I got a horrible start, but I made some passes on a bottleneck. I couldn’t catch these guys. They were going good.”
Brandon Ballance took a solid fourth on his YFZ450, and Pro Am rider Chris Bithel took top amateur honors with a great ride for fifth overall.
The FMF Mountaineer race took place at the Good Evening Ranch, a resort featuring a golf course and an exotic animal farm. The beautiful setting provided a stark contrast to the Mountaineer track, which wound its way through the rugged hills and mountains.
One hill allowed Ballance to get a big early lead. The five-time GNCC Champion clawed his YFZ450 to the top of a climb at the five-mile mark of the track, and the rest of the pack couldn’t make it. But the hill would come around to stop Ballance on the next lap. “Once I got to the top of the hill, I looked back and saw all those guys getting stuck, so I knew I had a big lead,” said Ballance. “I guess I kind of took it for granted. I didn’t know what those guys had gotten hung up on. So the next lap I actually hit the hill too hard and cased up on a stump. I got my wheels off the ground and got stuck. I saw Chris go around, and a couple of guys came out and helped me get off of the stump.”
Borich took the lead there, but Ballance would fight back. The duo went back and forth all day, passing over and over, until Ballance secured the lead on the last lap. Borich tried to pass him over the logs, but Ballance held him off to win by just five seconds after two hours of racing.
In the two-hour GNCC morning race, Billy Good took the overall win racing in the Four-Stroke Stock class on a Honda TRX450R. Cernic’s Suzuki’s Harlen Foley took second overall on his ATVRiders.com-backed machine, with South Carolina’s Will Cashion third. Suzuki’s Stephanie Parton was fifth overall and won the Women’s class.
The FMF Mountaineer GNCC was taped for an airing on the Outdoor Life Network, and GNCC races air Tuesdays at 5 p.m., Thursdays at 11 a.m. and Saturdays at 2 p.m. EST.
The Suzuki Grand National Cross Country Series continues in two weeks with the premier stop on the tour, the Parts Unlimited Wisp GNCC in Deep Creek, Maryland, on June 25 and 26.
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 1500 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 Parts Unlimited, Moose, Maxxis, Pirelli, Wiseco, atv parts Klotz, FMF and ITP, and riders compete for over $1.3 million in series prizes and contingency money. Associate sponsors include Moose Utility Division, atv Scott, Alpinestars, Öhlins, Cometic, Outerwears, Race Tools, Twin Air, SFB Racing, Thor, Motion Pro, MotoTee’s, Warrior and Laeger’s. Media Sponsors include Dirt Rider Magazine, ATV Sport Magazine and Racer X Illustrated. For more information log on to GNCCRacing.com.
Photo: Team Yamaha's Bill Ballance just edged out Alba Actionsport's Chris Borich on the FMF Doomsday Downhill to win the FMF Mountaineer GNCC in Summersville, WV.
Photo by David Scearce.
ATV Overall Results
FMF Mountaineer GNCC – Summersville, WV
1. Bill V Ballance Oakland, KY Pro 001 YAM 5 02:13:58
2. Chris M Borich Sunbury, PA Pro 003 HON 5 02:14:03
3. Chris Jenks Washington, WV Pro 007 HON 5 02:16:02
4. Brandon Ballance Oakland, KY Pro 009 YAM 5 02:17:22
5. Chris Bithell Irwin, PA Pro Am 028 HON 5 02:18:28
6. Bryan Baker Knob Noster, MO Pro 023 HON 5 02:20:28
7. Andris Lagzdins Baltimore, MD Pro 014 ROL 5 02:20:59
8. Chad Duvall Williamstown, WV Pro 005 YAM 5 02:21:19
9. Duane Johnson Trenton, MO Pro Am 706 HON 5 02:21:21
10. Joshua Ribley Martinsville, IN Pro Am 029 YAM 5 02:22:06
11. Jeremy Rice Fombell, PA Pro 008 HON 5 02:22:50
12. Santo Derisi Casar, NC Pro 016 HON 5 02:24:39
13. Todd Demaree Varsailles, IN Pro Am 038 HON 5 02:24:50
14. Jeffrey Pickens Lemont Furnace, PA Pro Am 039 YAM 5 02:25:07
15. Brandon Sturdivant Montrose, WV Pro Am 316 HON 5 02:25:16
16. Brian W Schmid Colden, NY Pro Am 025 HON 5 02:26:00
17. Todd Rothermel Shamokin, PA 4 Stroke A 081 HON 5 02:27:21
18. Craig Reed Crawford, TN Open A 893 HON 5 02:27:29
19. Josh Whitehead Sinking Spring, PA Pro Am 035 LEG 5 02:27:32
20. Scott Barron New Cumberland, WV Pro Am 063 YAM 5 02:27:40
2005 Suzuki Grand National Cross Country ATV Points Standings
1. Bill Ballance (207/4 wins)
2. Chris Borich (178/3 wins)
3. William Yokley (141/1 win)
4. Chris Jenks (117)
5. Matt Smiley (107)
6. Brandon Ballance (105)
7. Adam McGill (98)
8. Andris Lagzdins (83)
9. Bryan Baker (78)
10. Jeremy Rice (59)