Ballance Pulls Out ITP Loretta Lynn’s ATVs GNCC on the Last Lap
Another amazing GNCC ATV race, and another clutch win for Yamaha’s Bill Ballance. The 2006 Suzuki ATV Grand National Cross Country Series has turned into one of the best ATV battles ever, and the ITP Loretta Lynn’s ATV GNCC just added to it. Ballance grabbed the ATV ITP holeshot award, but GT Thunder’s Chris Jenks sped past and went fast, leading for most of the day. On the last lap, he succumbed to the relentless pressure of Ballance atv and East Cost ATV Honda’s Chris Borich, and Ballance survived a scare with a lapper to take the win.
“It was pretty cool out there,” said Ballance. “Everyone has stepped up this year. You just have to hold it wide open on every lap. It’s intense. All day long I just wanted to get out front. I had the lead, but Chris got by and he was setting a good pace, so I just wanted to stay with him. I’ve been riding and riding and riding, so I wasn’t getting tired, and I was in one heck of a groove. I was eager to get out front on the last lap. I saw the white flag and knew it was time to go. I started to push it pretty hard. Chris made a mistake in some roots. Then about four miles from the end, I tangled with a lapper and hit a tree, went over the bars and bent a tie-rod. I thought, “Here we go again,” because I had a couple of these in the bag this year and it got away from me. It made me mad. I got back on, and I could hear those guys coming, so I held on. I have a lot of friends down here and it was time for a win.”
Borich suffered a few problems early, including a miffed pit stop when he bobbled with a fresh set of goggles. But he charged back to second on the final lap.
“We hooked up and were battling,” said Borich. “It was fun out there. I was leading a couple of times. I came in that second lap, and I got a rock jammed in my wheels, I had to get it out of there and they got by me. I got by Chris, and I tried to reel Bill in but I ran out of time. It’s nice to have the points lead, but I would rather win. We’re having the longer tracks here, and it helps. Lapped traffic wasn’t a factor.”
Jenks has shown tremendous speed this year and was happy to get on the podium. “Getting a good start is the key, and that’s where I needed to be,” said the West Virginian. “I was able to put a little run on him, there were a lot of lines out there. It was on the second lap, we were in the woods where they had some new woods cut in, and I just had a line and made the move. But that’s what got me on the last lap, because there were a lot of lines to get back around me. Then I got stuck on the last lap and Chris got around me. After two sixth places, I’m finally back up here. This where we are going to stay all year.”
Ballance had help right off the start when he nailed the ITP Holeshot Award. “We’re going back to some things we did last year when we got nine holeshots,” said Ballance.
Pro Am racer Brent Sturdivant logged the best race of his GNCC atv career by winning his class and finishing fourth overall. Pro rookie Duane Johnson rode very well again to finish fifth, with Yoshimura Suzuki’s atv's William Yokley in sixth. Chris Bithell, Bryan Baker, Adam McGill and Matt Smiley rounded out the top ten overall.
The ITP Loretta Lynn’s ATV GNCC drew over 1000 individual riders between the ATV and bike classes. The race was taped for an airing on the Outdoor Life Network as part of the Racer TV Series. GNCC TV airs every Saturday and Wednesday at 3 p.m.
Yamaha’s Traci Cecco topped Polaris’ Stephanie Parton to win the morning race ATV overall.
Suzuki Grand National Cross Country Series - Round 5
ITP Loretta Lynn’s GNCC, Hurricane Mills, TN
April 22, 2006
ATV Top Twenty Overall
20. Rhett M Butler Oak Grove, MO HON 0
For more information log on to www.GNCCRacing.com. Bill Ballance photos courtesy David Scearce. ww.pbase.com/ktmrider