Borich Wins GEICO Mountain Ridge GNCC in Last Lap Battle
Chris Borich and Yamaha’s Bill Ballance may try to keep the pressure off during their closest title fight ever, but they can’t hide much longer. Borich nailed a big overall win at the GEICO Mountain Ridge round of the Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series, and his emotions on the podium made it clear that this title means the world to him.
“What a race,” said Borich. “Some people think I haven’t been training over the break; but guess what? I have been. I got the point’s lead now, and I’m just going to come out here and do the best I can and hopefully win the rest of them and grab me a championship. I need one.”
Borich answered any doubts about how hard he worked over the summer, fighting hard for the win in an early battle with Ballance and Adam McGill, and then surviving an unbelievable charge down the stretch fromLTE Racings’s Chris Bithell. Ballance struggled with some equipment issues and persevered for third, McGill had a big crash that knocked him to fourth, and Bithell simply ran out of steam after charging so hard all day.
Bithell, 19, came from last place all the way back to lead the race, before finishing second. “Off the start, someone just got up underneath me from behind and I went off the bike, just like usual,” said Bithell. “I rode my butt off the first couple laps, being stupid through the dust, passing four guys at a time through dust sections. I really wanted to win and I knew I had to catch these guys.”
Ballance was struggling to keep pace. “I don’t know how I ended up in third,” said Ballance. “I just had a bad, bad day. I caught a big rock on the first lap, I think it bent a shaft in the shock and I think all the oil’s out of it now. One of the front shocks is messed up pretty bad. We were having some problems out there in the water, that’s the first time that’s ever happened. Hey, I got third. I don’t know how, it seems like we were just barely going around the track, but it’s what I needed to hopefully move onto the championship after all this.”
Fun-loving West Virginia native McGill was in the hunt, too, following Borich after the start and making moves for the lead midway through. “I followed him and watched his lines, the second lap is where I started making my passes,” said McGill. “I know I have the speed now. I just want to win one so bad, so bad you just wouldn’t believe it.”
McGill took the lead from Borich but tagged a lapper, sending him flying over the bars. He landed on the trail and Borich nearly ran him over. “I just about ran him over,” said Borich. “So I had to back up and take off and that’s when Chris got the lead, and Bill went by and I was right behind him. I just pushed and pushed and caught back up to Chris and we pretty much checked out. We had an awesome battle out there.”
Bithell may have been able to hold on for the win, but fatigue finally caught up to him after two hours chasing the pack after his first-turn crash. “I took the lead there and just tried to hold it,” said Bithell. “Chris must have passed Bill somewhere, and he came on strong. We battled, and I really didn’t have enough endurance there at the end. I was really working the whole race, and my arms were getting weak. I did the best I could to hold them off, we passed back and forth at the end. He got me in a mud section, he just knew a line around it, and I went right through it and he got around. I wanted this win in front of all these fans, everybody was yelling, I want to thank everybody out there, a lot of hometown guys out here, a lot of family, friends, everybody’s here for me and I could hear them yelling the whole race.”
McGill rallied late to hold onto fourth. Ever-consistent veteran Matt Smiley was fifth on an East Coast ATV Honda, in front of Team Excell Motorsports’ Bryan Cook. Seventh overall went to the winner of the XC Pro Am Class, GT Thunder Yamaha’s Brandon Sommers. Sommers grabbed the ATV riders holeshot award, was briefly passed by Kevin Yoho, and then got the lead back for good. Yoho dropped into third behind Don Ockerman before rallying late in the race to get second place in XC2, with Ockerman third. They finished 14th and 15th overall.
“I worked hard over the summer so I’m happy,” said Sommers. “I got a good start, and then Kevin got past me, I just tried to put in good laps and keep pushing.”
Eighth overall went to Duane Johnson, with Brent Sturdivant ninth and Taylor Kiser rounding out the top ten.
In the two-hour ATV morning race, Team Warnert Racing Can-Am swept the top three overall positions with three different machines. Limited 4x4 Winner Michael Swift took his first overall win over Open 4x4 Winner Scott Kilby and Lites 4x4 Winner Cliff Beasley, who actually tied for the second-place position. Jeremy Rice won the Sportsman class on the all-new KTM 450XC.LTE Racings’s Angel Atwell won the Women’s class for the second-straight race, with Yamaha’s Traci Cecco struggling with some bad luck to finish fifth, with Kristen Atwell, Jennifer Albright and Stephanie Parton in front of her.
Seth Mumford topped Dylan Bradford and Kyle Riley for a Cobra sweep of the top overall positions in the ATV Youth Race.
A total of 1419 riders competed throughout the weekend at the Mountain Ridge GNCC, which included a catered dinner for the racers on Saturday night courtesy of GEICO Motorcycle and ATV Insurance.
GEICO Mountain Ridge GNCC
Somerset , PA
September 1, 2007
1 Chris M Borich SUNBURY , PA HON 01:56:25
2 Chris Bithell IRWIN , PA HON 01:56:30
3 Bill Ballance Smith Grove, KY YAM 01:57:35
4 Adam McGill West Union , WV HON 01:58:26
5 Matt J Smiley Kunkletown, PA HON 02:01:19
6 Bryan Cook Casar, NC HON 02:01:21
7 Brandon Sommers Millersburg, OH YAM 02:01:28
8 Duane Johnson Trenton , MO HON 02:01:49
9 Brent Sturdivant Montrose, WV HON 02:01:58
10 Taylor Kiser Alva, FL YAM 02:02:14
11 Santo Derisi Casar, NC HON 02:02:51
12 Jarrod McClure Kaska, PA HON 02:02:57
13 Craig Reed Crawford, TN HON 02:03:02
14 Kevin Yoho Hopedale, OH YAM 02:03:28
15 Donald Ockerman Marshall , IL HON 02:03:31
16 Tyler Lenig Shamokin, PA YAM 02:05:08
17 Kyle Martin Winona, MO HON 02:05:25
18 Mark Notman Hubbard, OH HON 02:06:07
19 William Yokley Tompkinsville, KY KAW 02:06:11
20 Todd Demaree Varsialles, IN HON 02:06:36
Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series Standings
(After 9 of 13 rounds)
2007 Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series Standings
(After 9 of 13 rounds)
Top Twenty Overall
1. Chris Borich 240/5 wins
2. Bill Ballance 237/4 wins
3. Chris Bithell 166
4. Matt Smiley 133
5. Taylor Kiser 132
6. Adam McGill 127
7. Bryan Cook 110
8. Chris Jenks 100
8. Brandon Sommers 97
10. William Yokley 90
Photo by David Scearce