Deep Creek, MD – The competition in the Suzuki ATV Grand National Cross Country Series may be able to match Team Yamaha’s Bill Ballance for pure speed this year, but no one has proved smarter when the conditions get tough. On an incredibly rough and rocky course, Ballance persevered to win the Parts Unlimited Wisp ATV GNCC, his third-straight win in the series. Safari Motorsports Polaris ATV rider Matt Smiley led most of the race and took a hard-fought second, with Yoshimura ATV Suzuki’s William Yokley in third.
Former ATV series’ leader Chris Borich crashed and broke his collarbone, knocking the Alba Actionsports Honda ATV rider from the race and championship contention.
“This is the roughest ATV track I think we’ve ever seen,” said Ballance. “There were a lot of battles out there today. Chris (Borich) and I blew down this downhill and got our tires locked together. We dropped back in the pack and started slowly working our way back to the front. Toward the end, I lost my back brakes. I didn’t think there was any chance I could win, but I got around Matt (Smiley), he got hung up a little bit, and I got away from them.”
The come-from behind ATV win extends the points lead for the five-time ATV GNCC Champion from Kentucky. Borich, a three-time ATV winner this year, was fighting through the pack with him before he crashed in a field section, ending his day. Luckily, he will have over two months to return to racing since the Suzuki ATV GNCC Series now begins its annual summer break.
Smiley was all smiles after putting his Polaris Predator 500 ATV back on the podium. “It feels good to get up front and run with these guys, it’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to do that,” said Smiley, who lead all the way until the last lap. “I’ve said it before, sometimes being in first on the last lap is the worst place to be, because of bottlenecks and stuff like that. Bill and William managed to get around me when I got stuck, and I had a tree wedged up under my A-arm. A lapper actually helped me pull it out.”
As always, the fun-loving Yokley was happy with third. “I had the lead early, but I wasn’t in a hurry, I knew it would be a long day,” said Yokley. “I want to give all the fans a big Hell Yeah because they were cheering for me. On the last lap, when Bill came around, we kind of came together, and I didn’t want to take any chances and throw it away. He was gone. Then Matt got hung on a log, but I knew he was coming, and I got stuck with some lappers, and he got around me. I stayed with him, but on the last hill my subframe broke, and I was just lucky it didn’t pull the carb out of the engine.”
The Wisp is unlike any other race on the tour. A beautiful ski resort in Western Maryland, the race features huge hills and endless miles of big boulders. The track is tough and unrelenting, and only the strong survive. All told, well over 1300 racers braved the rugged track.
DeRisi Racing’s Santo DeRisi put in his best ride in months with a solid fourth overall. Four-Stroke Tech’s Chris Jenks was putting in another great ride and even leading the race at one point, but he bent his steering stem and had to deal with steering problems in the rocks. He would take fifth, right in front of his teammate Bryan Cook who took sixth. Seventh went to 2004 Pro Am Champion Jeremy Rice, eighth to current Pro Am class leader Adam McGill, with local favorites Andy Lagzdins and Todd Knippenberg rounding out the top ten.
The Parts Unlimited Wisp 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 begins its annual summer break. Racing will continue with an all-new race in Yadkinville, North Carolina, on September 10 and 11.
The ATVA-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, atv parts, Pirelli, Wiseco, atv, Klotz, FMF and ITP, and riders compete for over $1.5 million in series prizes and contingency money. Associate sponsors include Moose Utility Division, 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.
Suzuki GNCC Series Results
Parts Unlimited Wisp GNCC
Deep Creek, MD – June 25
ATV Top Twenty Overall
1. Bill V Ballance Oakland, KY Pro 001 YAM 02:15:31
2. Matt J Smiley Kunkletown, PA Pro 004 POL 02:16:42
3. William Yokley Tompkinsville, KY Pro 002 SUZ 02:16:55
4. Santo Derisi Casar, NC Pro 016 HON 02:17:14
5. Chris Jenks Washington, WV Pro 007 HON 02:17:25
6. Bryan Cook Casar, NC Pro 006 YAM 02:18:08
7. Jeremy Rice Fombell, PA Pro 008 HON 02:20:24
8. Adam Mcgill West Union, WV Pro Am 066 HON 02:20:52
9. Andris Lagzdins Baltimore, MD Pro 014 ROL 02:21:04
10. Todd Knippenberg Cumberland, MD Pro 013 HON 02:21:52
11. Johnny Gallagher Aurora, OH Pro 018 HON 02:22:02
12. Brandon Sturdivant Montrose, WV Pro Am 316 HON 02:22:54
13. James L Wahl Shillington, PA Pro Am 015 LEG 02:24:24
14. Duane Johnson Trenton, MO Pro Am 706 HON 02:24:43
15. Scott Barron New Cumberland, WV Pro Am 063 YAM 02:24:59
16. Brandon Ballance Oakland, KY Pro 009 YAM 02:25:59
17. Derek Litterini Sutersville, PA Pro Am 068 HON 02:26:04
18. Craig Reed Crawford, TN Open A 423 HON 02:26:45
19. Brian W Schmid Colden, NY Pro Am 025 HON 02:27:34
20. Dan Yocabet Brownsville, PA Pro Am 863 POL 02:28:18
2005 Suzuki GNCC ATV Point Standings (After 9 of 13 rounds)
1. Bill Ballance (237/5 wins)
2. Chris Borich (178/3 wins)
3. William Yokley (162/1 win)
4. Chris Jenks (133)
5. Matt Smiley (132)
6. Adam McGill (111)
7. Brandon Ballance (110)
8. Andris Lagzdins (95)
9. Bryan Baker (78)
10. Jeremy Rice (73)
Photo: Yamaha's Bill Ballance continued his mastery of the GNCC Series' toughest tracks with a come-from-behind win at the rough and rocky Parts Unlimited Wisp GNCC in Deep Creek, MD. Photo by Raymond Gundy.