Ballance Wins Wild Yadkin Valley Stomp ATV GNCC
11-rider fight concludes in a huge bottleneck, Yokley, Houston , lose it in the final mile
Nearly every round of the 2006 Suzuki Grand National Country ATV Series has featured incredible racing, but the Yadkin Valley Stomp might have been the best yet. An 11-rider pack broke out in a knock-down drag-out battle for the lead and the action continued right into the final stretch of the two-hour race, when bad luck snagged the leaders, Yoshimura/Monster Suzuki’s William Yokley and LTERacing Michael Houston. Defending GNCC ATV Champion Bill Ballance was able to bust past them and win, with HMF/GT Thunder pro rookie Duane Johnson in second and K&K ATV veteran Bryan Baker in third.
“We got into a bottleneck, and William was leading, and I think he jumped in there before he knew what was going on, basically,” said Ballance. “He got into the trail right behind a guy and he was too close to back up. So we pushed around the guys who got hung up. Then Houston ’s clutch went out, and we went around him and cruised on in.”
It was a heartbreaker for Yokley and Houston, who had come from way back in the pack before disaster struck within sight of the finish.
“I had it,” said a dejected Yokley. The popular Kentucky rider got a bad start, and then pitted on the first lap. But even on the tight track, Yokley was able to work his way toward the front of the pack late in the race. He passed Ballance and Houston on the last lap and was ready to take off before he got stuck behind a slower rider. This opened up the door for Houston .
“I was back far enough to where I could see William,” said Houston, who had his clutch blow out on the last lap. “So I took a different line and got away, I think Bill was right behind me. I pulled up and had to stop and let one guy move his quad out of the way. As soon as I started going, I heard it chatter and I was done. Man, it’s heartbreaking, to be in the lead that close to the finish.”
Ballance busted through with Johnson and Baker behind him. “I got all tangled up at the start, I must have been 18th,” said Johnson. “I just kept working my way through. I caught the tail of all of the fast guys, and then Borich, Bithell and Cook all got stuck in a ditch. I was into the top five there, and then people just kept making mistakes. It was crazy, there was a big bottleneck. I just stayed on Bill’s grab bar because I figured he would get through there as well as anyone else.”
Baker had similar good luck. “We were literally a half a mile from the end, and it was a real thick section,” said Baker. “There were quads sitting everywhere and pros sitting everywhere. A bunch of pros went to the right and then the guy that clogged it got undone, and I just went through and got into third.”
GNCC Title contender Chris Borich ran up front most of the day but ended up fourth. In the early laps, Borich battled with Ballance and LTERacing rookie Chris Bithell. Later, Ballance got stuck in a ditch, and Borich bumped him out. Then Borich got stuck and soon Bithell and Team Excell Motorsports’ Bryan Cook got stuck with him. Chaos was breaking out all over the course, as GT Thunder’s Chris Jenks was up front, but he made a mistake and ended up dragging his leg under his machine, until he was stuck completely under it! Cook and Bithell stopped to help him off.
It was that kind of day, but the results board will show Ballance continues to extend his points lead over Borich, with just three races to go before a champion is crowned.
In morning race action, Team Yamaha’s Traci Cecco won another dramatic battle with Stephanie Parton and Angel Atwell. The overall win locked up Cecco’s fifth GNCC Women’s Championship.
The Versus Network (Formerly the Outdoor Life Network) taped all of the Stomp action for the Racer TV Series. Races air every Saturday and Wednesday at 3 pm.
The Suzuki GNCC Series continues in two weeks at historic Unadilla Valley Sports Center in New Berlin , NY with the Unadilla GNCC.
Suzuki Grand National Cross Country Series - Round 10
Yadkin Valley Stomp GNCC
September 9, 2006